(Genoa or Rome 1512 - Rocca Contrada 1600)
A Hilly Landscape with Trees
180 x 242 mm. (7 1/8 x 9 1/2 in.)
Around 360 landscape drawings by Cibo are known today, some of which bear dates ranging between 1560 and 1593. This hitherto unpublished drawing displays a more refined technique than most of the artist’s studies, and can be counted among his finest extant landscapes. Among stylistically comparable drawings by the artist is a Mountainous Landscape with an Arched Rock in the Uffizi and a Wooded River Landscape in the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, as well as a large mountain landscape in the Biblioteca Angelica in Rome.
The Cibo scholar Lucia Tongiorgi Tomasi notes that ‘Profound artistic sensibility, scientific knowledge and technical skill characterise the work of this notable sixteenth-century artist...Gherardo Cibo could also be considered as the very embodiment of that fascinating Renaissance ideal – the ‘artist-scientist-dilettante’. He was a precocious interpreter of the new and highly successful formula which was to unite the Italian and Flemish pictorial traditions.’ And, as another recent scholar has added, ‘That Cibo would eventually be regarded as one of the most delightful and original Italian landscapists of the sixteenth century is an unexpected reward for this gentil’huomo who never received classical training as an artist and who may well have regarded his activities as a landscape draftsman as little more than a pleasurable distraction.’
This drawing bears the drystamp of the 19th century Danish businessman and collector Benjamin Wolff (1790-1866). Wolff studied law in Copenhagen before settling in Calcutta, where for twelve years he worked for an English trading house, of which he eventually became a partner. He returned to Denmark a wealthy man in 1829, and the following year purchased the large manor home and estate of Engelholm, about sixty kilometres southwest of Copenhagen. An amateur draughtsman himself, Wolff assembled a collection of drawings by Danish and European artists ranging in date from the 16th century to the 19th century. Over the course of some thirty years, he acquired over 2,000 drawings, most of which were purchased at auctions in Denmark. Following the collector’s death in 1866, the drawings remained with his descendants for over 150 years. Apart from a modest bequest to the Statens Museum for Konst in Copenhagen in 1915 and a pair of exhibitions in a small town in Denmark in the early 1980s, in which the present sheet was included, Wolff’s collection of drawings has remained unpublished and little known to scholars.
Thence by descent in the Wolff-Sneedorf family until 2018.