(Ancona c.1555 - Ascoli Piceno after 1635)
An Angel Seated on a Cloud and Playing the Violin
158 x 114 mm. (6 1/4 x 4 1/2 in.)
The present sheet can be compared stylistically with a squared drawing of three music-making angels by Lilio in the Louvre. Likewise in black chalk on blue paper, the Louvre drawing is the study for the upper part of an altarpiece of Saints John the Baptist, Francis of Assisi, Bernardino of Siena and Paul Adoring the Cross, painted in the mid-1590s for the church of San Francesco in Ancona and now in the Pinacoteca Civica there. Indeed, the pose of the angel in this drawing is similar to that of the central angel playing a violin in the Ancona painting.
Among other stylistically comparable drawings by Lilio is a study in black chalk of a Dead Christ in the Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen in Rotterdam, which is preparatory for a Pietà with Saints, signed and dated 1596, that is today in the Pinacoteca Civica in Bagnacavallo, and a squared drawing of Saint Irene and Others Tending to the Wounds of Saint Sebastian in the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
Likewise comparable is a drawing of Saint Peter of Alcántara Giving Communion to Saint Teresa of Avila, in black chalk on blue paper, in the Biblioteca Nacional de España in Madrid, and a squared study of A Seated Evangelist in the same technique, in the Teyler Museum in Haarlem, as well as an Assumption of the Virgin, in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, which is a compositional study for an altarpiece of 1604 in a church in the coastal town of Numana, south of Ancona.
The present sheet was once part of the collection of the art historian, museum curator, patron and cultural broadcaster Sir Kenneth Clark, later Lord Clark of Saltwood (1903-1983). Clark, who served as Director of the National Gallery and Keeper of the King’s Pictures between 1934 and 1945, and later as chairman of the Arts Council, began collecting while a student at Oxford, and eventually assembled a small but choice group of Old Master and British drawings, as well as paintings, sculptures, illuminated miniatures and works of art dating from the Renaissance to the 1940s.
The artist returned several times to Ancona, where he painted a number of important works for local churches, as well as, in 1598, the temporary decorations for the entry of Pope Clement VIII into the city. Lilio was active elsewhere in the Marche, although he seems to have always maintained a studio in Rome. In 1613 he painted a Madonna of Loreto with Saints for the church of San Francesco alle Scale in Ancona. Late in his career he also created a number of designs for allegorical prints, commissioned by some of the leading noble families in Rome. Lilio’s last known dated painting is an altarpiece of The Crucifixion, painted in 1631 for the church of San Giovanni Battista in Ancona. The date of the artist’s death is unknown, although the contemporary painter and art historian Giovanni Baglione noted that he died in Ascoli Piceno while working on a project that was left unfinished; these are presumably the lunette frescoes of scenes from the life of Saint Benedict in the cloister of the church of Sant’Angelo Magno, which were executed sometime in the 1630s.
Sir Kenneth Clark, Lord Clark of Saltwood, London and Saltwood Castle, Kent
His posthumous sale, London, Sotheby’s, 5 July 1984, lot 168
Anonymous sale, London, Sotheby’s, 4 July 1988, lot 29
Private collection, Germany
Colnaghi / Katrin Bellinger, London, in 2004
Acquired in 2006 by Herbert Kasper, New York
Thence by descent.