Giovanni Battista Trotti MALOSSO
(Cremona 1556 - Parma 1619)
Christ Enthroned with the Virgin, Saint Francis Kneeling Below
The figure of Saint Francis indented with the stylus and outlined in black chalk on the verso.
Inscribed LB (?) on the verso.
372 x 247 mm. (14 6/8 x 9 3/4 in.)
This drawing may be a preparatory study, with differences, for Malosso’s altarpiece, signed and dated 1598, in the parish church at Manerbio, near Brescia. Malosso’s painting was later copied almost exactly by one of his pupils, Bartolomeo Bersani, in an altarpiece intended for the church of Sant’Angelo in Cremona and now in the chiesa parrochiale in the town of Solarolo Monasterolo. Bersani’s painting, which may have been made from the same cartoon as the Manerbio altarpiece, was correctly described in 1665 by one historian as a work designed by Malosso but painted by Bersani. Just over a hundred years later, however, some confusion seems to have arisen as to the true author of the Sant’Angelo altarpiece, with some authors believing it to be by the hand of the master himself and not his pupil, Bersani. Nevertheless, as Giovanni Battista Zaist noted of the altarpiece in his Notizie istoriche de’ pittori, scultori ed architetti cremonesi, published in 1774, ‘in this painting also one can clearly discern the character of Malosso, and some, who would like to appear all-knowing, not reading in it any name, have baptized it as his true work. But it is certainly not by that very noble author…A painting like this suffers from a great hardness, even though it has been taken from a very beautiful drawing, which I have seen, very soft and mellow, and which now rests in some secret nook…’
It has been suggested that Zaist was here referring to the present sheet by Malosso, although there remain a number of significant differences between the drawing and the two paintings mentioned above. The present drawing did, however, serve as a preparatory study for another painting by Malosso, signed and dated 1593, in the church of San Clemente in the town of Bertonico, near Lodi. In the Bertonico altarpiece, the figure of Saint John the Baptist joins Saint Francis on the lower tier of the composition.
Private collection, Cremona
Anonymous sale, London, Sotheby’s Olympia, 13 December 2001, lot 60
Jean-Luc Baroni Ltd., London, in 2002
Private collection, New York.