Niccolò Martinelli, TROMETTA (Pesaro c.1540 - Rome 1611)

The Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple Sold

Pen and brown ink and brown wash, over an underdrawing in black chalk, heightened with white, on blue-green paper.
A fragment of a study of a seated draped figure drawn in black chalk on the verso, backed.
311 x 228 mm. (12 1/4 x 9 in.)


This is a preparatory study for Trometta's most important project; the fresco decoration of the choir of Santa Maria in Aracoeli in Rome, which was so much admired by Baglione. The Aracoeli scheme consisted of three principal frescoes, with The Virgin and Child with Angels in the centre flanked by scenes of Augustus and the Sibyl and Augustus Sacrificing at the Altar, and with figures of the four Evangelists on either side of these. At either end of the vault were rectangular scenes of The Birth of the Virgin and The Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple, while allegorical female figures and various saints completed the scheme. The entire project, completed in 1568 after two years of labour, remains in situ, and is practically the only example of Trometta's work in Rome that survives to this day.

That the Aracoeli commission was regarded by the young Trometta as a critical opportunity to prove his artistic talents on a grand scale is seen in the several drawings for different parts of the entire project that survive. The present sheet is a study for the central figure group of the fresco of The Presentation of the Virgin, with the Virgin mounting the steps of the temple to be greeted by the high priest and his fellow priests.

Only three other preparatory drawings for the Aracoeli fresco of The Presentation of the Virgin are known. Two of these are in the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung in Munich; one showing nearly the full width of the composition and the other studying the central portion and left half of the scene. Another preparatory drawing for the whole composition, of considerable dimensions like the first of the Munich drawings, is in the collection of the Prado in Madrid.

The study in black chalk of the legs of a seated, draped figure on the verso of the present sheet may possibly be a study for the woman seated at the far right of the large compositional drawing in the Prado.

Hazlitt Gooden & Fox, London, in 1988
Pandora Old Masters, New York, in 1999
Private collection.

London, Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox, European Drawings: Recent Acquisitions, exhibition catalogue, 1988, unpaginated, no.29; New York, Pandora Old Masters Inc., Old Master Drawings and Oil Sketches, 1999, unpaginated, no.6; Nicholas Turner, Museo del Prado: Catálogo de Dibujos. Vol.V: Dibujos Italianos del Siglo XVI, Madrid, 2004, pp.134-135, under no.39; Nicholas Turner, From Michelangelo to Annibale Carracci: A Century of Italian Drawings from the Prado, exhibition catalogue, Pittsburgh and elsewhere, 2008-2009, pp.134-135, under no.39; Horace Wood Brock, Martin P. Levy and Clifford S. Ackley, Splendor and Elegance: European Decorative Arts and Drawings from the Horace Wood Brock Collection, exhibition catalogue, Boston, 2009, p.157, no.120, illustrated p.120.

Niccolò Martinelli, TROMETTA

The Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple


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