Bartolomeo Cesi (Bologna 1556-1629) The Adoration of the Shepherds with ink number '645' (verso) red and white chalk, stumping, squared in red chalk, on faded blue paper 13¾ x 9½ in. (350 x 240 mm.)
Artist or Maker
Cesi, Bartolomeo (1556-1629)
Although not connected to any known work by Cesi, this highly finished and squared compositional study was surely a preparatory study for a large altarpiece. Cesi was a prolific draughtsman who made extensive preparatory studies for his painted compositions and the majority of his extant graphic oeuvre is at the Uffizi (A. Petriolo Tofani ed., Inventario: gabinetto disegni e stampe degli Uffizi: disegno di figura, II, nos. 1547-56). The present work exhibits the artist's characteristically deft use of red and white chalk, especially in the numerous folds of the drapery and garments. The elegant figures and attractive facial types display the influence of Carracci school naturalism. The result is a highly studied composition with well observed figures. The architecture, with the crossbeams receding into the background, can be found in other works by Cesi, such as his fresco of The Adoration of the Magi for S. Domenico in Bologna as well as the corresponding pen and ink preparatory drawing (M. Faeitti and A. Zacchi, Figure: disegni dal cinquecento all'ottocento nella Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna, Milan, 1998, pp. 116-17, no. 34). The attribution to Cesi was made by Nicholas Turner and confirmed by Mario di Giampaolo.