Sebastiano FOLLI

(Siena c.1569 - Siena 1622)

Saint Michael the Archangel and the Devil

Red chalk and red wash.
Numbered 307 or 309 [partially cut off] at the top edge, and 309 at the bottom edge.
231 x 138 mm. (9 1/8 x 5 3/8 in.)
The attribution of the present sheet to the Sienese artist Sebastiano di Girolamo Folli is traditional. 

The figure of Saint Michael the Archangel appears in a handful of paintings and frescoes by Folli, including a number of lost works, such as an altarpiece of The Virgin and Child with Saint Michael Archangel and other Saints, painted in 1617 for the church of San Michele Arcangelo at Vico Alto, just outside the city walls of Siena. A similarly armoured figure of the saint, although without the devil at his feet, appears in Folli’s large altarpiece of The Virgin and Child with Saints Peter, Francis, Catherine of Alexandria, Paul and Michael Archangel, datable to the first decade of the 17th century, in the church of San Biagio in Castiglione d’Orcia, as well as in a painting of The Virgin and Child with Saints Michael Archangel and Jerome, today in the town hall of Massa Marittima.
 
A pupil of Alessandro Casolani as well as Ventura Salimbeni, Sebastiano Folli enjoyed a successful career and earned several significant commissions. He is already documented as a painter in 1587 and 1589, although his earliest known work - a frescoed portrait in the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena - dates from 1593. Folli painted numerous works for churches in and around Siena, notably at San Domenico, Santa Maria della Scala and San Sebastiano, as well as paintings in several rooms of the Palazzo Pubblico. A series of frescoes, dominated by a Last Judgement, were executed for the chapel of the Palazzo Cinughi de’Pazzi-Vincenti in Siena. Around the turn of the century Folli also worked for some time in Rome, where among his patrons was Cardinal Alessandro de’ Medici, the future Pope Leo XI, for whom he painted frescoes in the church of Sant’Agnese fuori le Mura. Back in Siena, Folli worked on ceiling frescoes in the churches of Santa Lucia in 1612 and Santa Marta between 1615 and 1617. Folli’s work as a draughtsman reveals the distinct influence of Alessandro Casolani, and the drawings of the two have sometimes been confused. The largest extant group of drawings by or attributed to Folli is today in the Biblioteca Comunale in Siena, and other sheets are in the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin, the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh, the Uffizi in Florence, the Museo Cerralbo in Madrid and the Louvre in Paris, as well as in the collection of the Dukes of Devonshire at Chatsworth. The number of drawings that can be securely connected to finished paintings by the artist is, however, fairly small.

Provenance

Anonymous sale, New York, Christie’s, 25 January 2007, lot 15
Private collection, St. Paul, Minnesota.
 

Sebastiano FOLLI

Saint Michael the Archangel and the Devil