Pietro Antonio de PIETRI
(Premia 1662 - Rome 1716)
The Miracle of the Santa Casa of Loreto [recto]; The Virgin and Child Carried by Angels [verso]
The verso in pen and brown ink and brown wash, with touches of white heightening.
Signed and inscribed di Pietro de Pietri / No. 241 on the verso.
Further inscribed Pietro di Pietri and numbered N 4on the verso.
421 x 272 mm. (16 5/8 x 10 3/4 in.)
ACQUIRED BY THE MINNEAPOLIS INSTITUTE OF ARTS, MINNEAPOLIS, MN.
This large, double-sided drawing, which may be counted among the finest examples of Pietro de’ Pietri’s draughtsmnship, is a study for a now-lost painting of The Madonna of Loreto. Although the finished work no longer survives, a number of preparatory studies for the picture are known. An oil sketch is in the collection of the Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf, as is a preparatory study in pen and brown ink and wash, while further studies for The Madonna of Loreto are found on both sides of a double-sided sheet in the Louvre. As Dieter Graf has noted of these preparatory drawings by Pietro de’ Pietri, to which the present sheet may now be added, ‘Apparently, the artist drew the sheets in quick succession, deftly varying the poses of the figures and details of the building from one sketch to another.’ The present sheet is the largest and most finished of the handful of extant pen studies for this lost painting by Pietro de’ Pietri.
A similar arrangement of angels supporting the Santa Casa and the Virgin and Child is found in an altarpiece by Pietro de’ Pietri of The Madonna of Loreto Appearing to Saint Christopher, datable to the first years of the 18th century, in the church of San Giovanni Battista in the coastal town of Civitanova Marche, west of Macerata. This was one of several commissions de’ Pietri seems to have received from Marchigian patrons.
Born in the Piedmontese town of Premia, Pietro de’ Pietri arrived in Rome as a youth, studying first with Giuseppe Ghezzi and then the little-known Cremonese painter Angelo Massarotti, before entering the studio of Carlo Maratta. In his biography of the artist, Lione Pascoli noted that de’ Pietri remained a devoted admirer of Maratta’s art throughout his career, and indeed his style as both painter and draughtsman was indebted to that of the elder artist. He was established as an independent artist by the end of the 1680’s, and produced altarpieces and frescoes for several Roman churches, including San Clemente and Santa Maria in Via Lata. Elected to the Accademia di San Luca in 1711, Pietro de’ Pietri received a number of important commissions from Pope Clement XI, as well as from members of such important Roman families as the Pallavicini, Ottoboni and Imperiali. He also executed several etchings and engravings, and provided designs for other printmakers.
Pietro de’ Pietri is perhaps better known today as a draughtsman than as a painter. Many of his drawings are composition studies in pen and ink, while he also produced studies of heads and other details in black or red chalk, or a combination of the two, often drawn on blue paper. As Ann Percy has noted of the artist’s drawings, ‘his style is clearly indebted to Maratta, although his manner, softer and more tentative, lacks Maratta’s usual toughness and vigor in the handling of chalk or pen.’ Like his master Maratta, de’ Pietri often produced several preparatory studies for each of his paintings, and many of his drawings display an attractive, painterly technique. Large groups of drawings by Pietro de’ Pietri are at the Kunstmuseum in Düsseldorf, the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin, the Louvre and the Royal Library at Windsor Castle.