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] Sold

Pen and brown ink and brown wash.
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.)



This drawing depicts the Miracle of the Santa Casa of Loreto; a subject that was popular among Maratta’s pupils. The Santa Casa (or Holy House) of Loreto was the house in Nazareth where the Virgin Mary lived, and where she received the Angel of the Annunciation. The little house was a place of pilgrimage from the earliest days of Christianity. According to legend, when Nazareth was threatened by Saracen armies in 1291, the entire house was miraculously raised from its foundations and transported by angels from Nazareth to the town of Tersatto in Dalmatia, in modern-day Croatia. In 1294, with Tersatto under threat from the Moorish advances into Albania, the house was again carried by angels across the Adriatic Sea, and eventually was deposited in the town of Loreto. A large basilica was built over the house by the architects Giuliano da Maiano, Giuliano da Sangallo and Bramante, with the facade completed in the late 16th century under the patronage of Pope Sixtus V. The decoration of the interior of the basilica is the work of several generations of painters, sculptors and craftsmen. The Santa Casa at Loreto remains an important place of pilgrimage for Catholics today.

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.

Anonymous sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 27 June 2001, lot 74
W. M. Brady and Co., New York, in 2003
Private collection.

New York, W. M. Brady & Co., Master Drawings, exhibition catalogue, 2003, unpaginated, no.11.

Pietro Antonio de PIETRI

The Miracle of the Santa Casa of Loreto [recto]; The Virgin and Child Carried by Angels [verso]


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