Johan Tobias SERGEL (Stockholm 1740 - Stockholm 1814)

A Dancing Maenad with a Sacrificial Lamb Sold

Red chalk, within a drawn oval.
173 x 163 mm. (6 3/4 x 6 3/8 in.) [image]
202 x 183 mm. (8 x 7 1/4 in.) [sheet]


This study after an antique relief was drawn by Johan Tobias Sergel during his stay in Rome, between 1767 and 1778. The artist has here copied part of an ancient relief of bacchantes at the Villa Borghese, possibly working from an etched copy of the frieze by the printmaker Pietro Santi Bartoli, executed as part of Bartoli’s Admiranda Romanarum Antiquitatum (The Wonders of Ancient Rome), published in 1693. Sergel has transposed the figure into an oval medallion format, and has altered some details of the frieze, notably the drapery and the lamb. 

As has been noted of Sergel’s time in Italy, ‘It was Rome that set the genius of Sergel free…It is easy to understand why a young artist from a country, not abundant in art, should be overwhelmed by the art treasures of Rome – Classical, Mediaeval, Renaissance and Baroque – and bewildered by the different messages of the periods of style. But Sergel did not lose heart – for that his nature was too healthy…he embarked upon profound and methodical studies in museums and churches, adopting the plan of training which was then in use at the French Academy, which Sergel frequented as a guest, like so many other non-French artists. For close upon three years he drew and modelled from works belonging to old and recent times. Both Raphael and Michelangelo, the Carracci and Bernini interested him alongside of the Greek and Hellenistic artists, whose works were to be seen in the Vatican and other museums, mostly in Roman copies, but occasionally in originals.’

The present sheet belonged to the artist’s son, Johan Gustav Sergel (1792-1858). Although his father had hoped he would follow in his footsteps and become an artist, and gave him drawing lessons, Johan Gustav seems to have preferred farming, and eventually settled at Spånga säteriin Ärla in Södermanland, on the southeast coast of Sweden. 

The artist’s son, Johan Gustav Sergel, Ärla, Södermanland
Anonymous sale, Stockholm, Bukowskis, 27 November 2007, lot 567
Anonymous sale, Stockholm, Stockholms Auktionsverk, 27 November 2008, lot 2231.

Ragnar Josephson, Sergels Fantasi, Stockholm, 1956, Vol.I, p.63, fig.55.

Johan Tobias SERGEL

A Dancing Maenad with a Sacrificial Lamb


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