Friday, November 03, 2006

Raphael and Pintoricchio

Many pictures in the blog display parts of the fresco cycle from the Piccolomini Library in the Duomo at Siena. By accident I came across an image of one of the preparatory drawings for one of the frescoes.

The fresco is the one entitled Cardinal Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini Presents Eleanor of Portugal to Emperor Frederick iii, 1502–4. It is shown below.
The preparatory drawing was done by a young Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio; 1483–1520). Three further drawings by the young Raphael attest to his substantial involvement in the designs for the Piccolomini cycle. The drawing is above.

This large-scale finished compositional study, or modello is in pen and brown ink, brown wash, heightened with white gouache (original heightening almost completely lost, later retouched), over black chalk and stylus indentations. Ithas borne substantial losses and is severely abraded. It is inscribed, possibly by the artist, near upper edge, left of center, in pen and brown ink, "Questa e la quinta [st]oria de Papa[Pio]."

The drawing is part of The Bequest of Alice B. Tully in The Morgan Library & Museum, 225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street, New York, NY 10016

It is understood that Pintoricchio and Raphael are shown painted in one of the frescos, that of the Canonisation of St Catherine of Siena. The relevant detail is below.

Pintoricchio was one of the foremost Central Italian painters and specialised in frescoes and altarpieces.

When Pintoricchio was awarded the commission for the fresco decoration of the Piccolomini Library in Siena, the contract legally bound him to produce all the preparatory drawings and cartoons himself. Instead, Pintoricchio 'being a friend of Raphael and knowing him to be an excellent draughtsman brought him to Siena where Raphael made for him some drawings and some cartoons' for the prestigious project.

It is a measure of his faith in Raphael's skill that Pintoricchio (almost thirty years his senior) deferred much of the project's design to the young artist, in spite of the risk of legal action for going against the terms of his contract.