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  • "Ciro Ferri"
    Type: inscription
    Location: bottom center
    Materials: pen and brown ink
  • ""Romanelli"
    Type: inscription
    Location: verso
  • crossed keys within shield above letter B
    Type: watermark
  • James Bowdoin III( Collector, Boston) - 1811.
  • Bowdoin College Museum of Art( Museum, Brunswick, Maine) 1811- . Bequest
  • Old Master Drawings at Bowdoin College
    • Bowdoin College Museum of Art. ( 5/17/1985 - 7/7/1985)
    • Clark Art Institute. ( 9/14/1985 - 10/27/1985)
    • University of Kansas. ( 1/19/1986 - 3/2/1986)
    • Art Gallery of Ontario. ( 5/17/1986 - 6/29/1986)

This drawing is a copy after a print (fig. 1) designed by Ciro Ferri and executed by Francois Spierre (1639-81) for the illustrated book Missale Romanum ex decreto Concilii Tridentini restitutum. Published by the printing press of the Vatican, the Missale Romanum is a liturgical book of the Roman mass commissioned by Pope Alexander VII (Graf, 201). The ten drawings that were the basis for the engraved illustrations were by Pietro da Cortona (1596-1669) and his studio. Ferri was one of Cortona’s most notable pupils and worked most closely in the style of his teacher.

The original drawings for the composition by Ferri are at the Metropolitan Museum in New York (fig. 2) (Stampfle and Bean, 80) and at the Louvre (fig. 3). The first is a fully modeled and finished drawing and the latter a red chalk drawing in the same direction as the print, thus probably an earlier study as Ferri worked out the details of the design. The Bowdoin sheet likely dates to the late seventeenth century, and the focus on the outlines of the figures, recording the composition with little interest in shading or depth, makes the artist difficult to identify. The drawing may have been used in studio practice as a record of Ferri’s design or as a training tool for young apprentices who had just begun learning to draw. Another copy of the print in the Art Institute of Chicago (fig. 4), also unattributed, bears a close resemblance to the Bowdoin drawing.

Sarah Cantor


Graf, Dieter, “Disegni di Pietro da Cortona e della sua scuola per il Missale Romanum del 1662.” In Pietro da Cortona: Atti del convegno internazionale Roma-Firenze 12-15 novembre 1997, edited by Christoph Luitpold Frommel and Sebastian Schütze, 201-214. Milan: Electa, 1998.

Stampfle, Felice, and Jacob Bean, Drawings from New York Collections Vol II: The Seventeenth Century. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1967.


Fig. 1: François Spierre The Circumcision, Illustration for Missale Romanum ex decreto Concilii Tridentini restitutum, 1662, engraving

Fig. 2: Ciro Ferri The Circumcision, ca. 1662, pen and brown ink, brown wash, heightened with white over black chalk on paper, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1991.184.2

Fig. 3: Ciro Ferri The Circumcision, ca. 1662, red chalk on paper, Musée du Louvre, Paris, INV 477

Fig. 4: Unknown Artist The Circumcision, after Ciro Ferri, n.d., pen and brown ink, with brush and gray wash, over traces of graphite on paper, Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.773A

Commentary credited to David P. Becker (or not otherwise captioned) appeared in his catalogue Old Master Drawings at Bowdoin College (Brunswick: Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 1985).