Giovanni Baglione (Rome 1566 - Rome 1643)

Saint Paul Sold

Pen and brown ink and brown wash, heightened with white, on blue-green paper washed brown.
Faintly squared for transfer in red chalk.
Laid down on an 18th century English mount.
271 x 108 mm. (10 5/8 x 4 1/4 in.) [sheet]
325 x 161 mm. (12 3/4 x 6 3/8 in.) [mount]


The attribution of this drawing is due to the late Philip Pouncey, who recognized it as a preparatory study for the standing figure of Saint Paul in Giovanni Baglione’s altarpiece of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the Roman church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, completed by December 1600. Commissioned by Cardinal Paolo Emilio Sfondrato for his titular church in Rome, the altarpiece was one of a number of paintings ordered from Baglione for Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, but the only one that is still in its original location in the church. Cardinal Sfondrato owned several paintings by Baglione, and was among his most significant patrons.

This fine drawing is the only known preparatory study for Baglione’s altarpiece of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, and displays only minor differences with the final work. Maryvelma Smith O’Neil has noted of the present sheet that ‘The emphatic chiaroscural effects [of the fresco] have been graphically simulated in a carefully finished chalk sketch for St. Paul that lays particular stress on the large unbroken areas of light and dark that structure voluminous draperies.’ The pose of Saint Paul in both this drawing and the fresco was probably inspired by the similar figure of the saint in Raphael’s famous Saint Cecilia altarpiece of c.1513-1516 in the church of San Giovanni a Monte in Bologna, of which Sfondrato had commissioned a copy from the young Guido Reni, probably also for Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, in 1600.

A counterproof of the present sheet, in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle6, shows the whole composition in reverse, and includes the corresponding figure of Saint Peter. That this drawing may have originally showed both saints is suggested by a hint of drapery at the extreme right edge of the sheet.

Anonymous sale, London, Christie’s, 27 November 1973, lot 232 (as Milanese School, c.1560)
Kate de Rothschild, London, in 1975
Purchased from her by Ralph Holland, Newcastle
Thence by descent until 2013.

London, Kate de Rothschild, Exhibition of Old Master Drawings, n.d. [1975], unpaginated, no.22; Ralph Holland, Italian Drawings 1525-1750, exhibition catalogue, Newcastle, 1982, p.11, no.40; Maryvelma O’Neil, ‘Giovanni Baglione’, in Jane Turner, ed., The Dictionary of Art, 1996, p.53; Maryvelma Smith O’Neil, Giovanni Baglione: Artistic reputation in Baroque Rome, Cambridge, 2002, p.79, pp.241-242, no.23, illustrated p.80, pl.40; Heiko Damm and Henning Hoesch, ed., galleria portatile: Old Master Drawings from the Hoesch Collection, Petersberg, 2017, pp.132-135, no.30.


Saint Paul


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