Giovanni Francesco Barbieri GUERCINO (Cento 1591 - Bologna 1666)

Andromeda Sold

Red chalk, with framing lines in red chalk, on buff paper, backed.
A large made up area at the lower left corner.
Inscribed Jph / 78751 and Guercino on the backing sheet.
Inscribed A mon cher ami Emmanuel des Collections Henry Scipio Reitlinger / et Dennis J. Ward, 1954 on the reverse of the old backing sheet.
297 x 208 mm. (11 3/4 x 8 1/8 in.)


In his handling of red chalk, which he exploited with great skill to achieve subtle gradations of texture and tone, Guercino was particularly influenced by the drawings of the Carracci and, especially, Correggio. As Nicholas Turner has noted, ‘Guercino was…skilled in the use of red chalk, obtaining with it many outstanding effects. Red chalk limits the draughtsman to a narrower tonal range than black chalk or pen and wash, but it facilitates more subtle gradations within the range; it also provides an attractively warm hue, which Guercino exploited to the full to bring his figures to life in all their sensuousness.’ After his return to Bologna from Rome in 1623 Guercino began to use red chalk regularly, usually to further study the pose of a figure once the initial compositional studies in pen and ink had been completed. As his career progressed, however, his use of red chalk became more frequent, especially from the 1650’s onwards.

This is a preparatory figure study for Guercino’s large painting of Perseus and Andromeda of 1648, which was until recently in the Palazzo Balbi Senàrega in Genoa. The painting was commissioned from Guercino by his friend, the Bolognese collector Commendatore Giovanni Battista Manzini (1599-1664); one of several works by the artist in his collection. Somewhat unusually, Guercino’s account book, the libro de’ conti, records that the painting seems to have been paid for by Manzini, on the 24th of September 1648, not with money but with various goods.

Although this finished study for the figure of the captive Andromeda – a rare example in Guercino’s drawn oeuvre of a female nude in red chalk – differs from the final painting in several ways, such as the position of the arms, the two share several significant features, notably the position of the legs and the drapery. In the present sheet, pentimenti are visible in the figure’s left shoulder and the fingers of her outstretched left hand.

Four other drawings by Guercino have been proposed as preparatory studies for the 1648 painting. An earlier stage in the development of the composition is found in a pen and ink drawing of the figure of Andromeda, in which she is chained at the left wrist rather than the ankle, in the collection of the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas in Austin. A now-lost pen and ink drawing of Andromeda - horizontal in orientation, with the figure at the left and the sea monster at the lower right, as it appears in the final painting - was at one time in the collection of Pierre-Jean Mariette and was last recorded at auction in Paris in 1926.

The present sheet is characteristic of Guercino’s draughtsmanship in red chalk in the late 1640’s and 1650’s, and accords well with such drawings of this period as a drawing of Erminia of c.1648, formerly in the Ratjen collection and today in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.. Also comparable are two red chalk drawings of the same period; a study of The Apostles at the Tomb and a drawing of Diana Burning the Instruments of Love, both in private American collections.

Henry Scipio Reitlinger, London (Lugt 2274a)
His posthumous sale, London, Sotheby’s, 9 December 1953, part of lot 59
Dennis J. Ward, Brighton(?), in 1954 (according to an inscription on the old backing sheet)
Private collection, France.

Catherine Monbeig Goguel, Patrick Ramade and Nicolas Schwed, ed., L’Oeil et la Passion 2: Dessins baroques italiens dans les collections privées français, exhibition catalogue, Rennes, 2015, p.54, under no.8; Nicholas Turner, The Paintings of Guercino: A Revised and Expanded Catalogue raisonné, Rome, 2017, p.646, under no.354.

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri GUERCINO



  • Name: *
  • E-mail: *
  • Phone:
  • Comment: