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  • cardinal's hat over shield
    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)
Type: catalogue
Author: Henry Johnson
Document Title: Catalogue of the Bowdoin College Art Collections
Publ. Place: Brunswick, Maine
Reference: no. 35
Section Title: Pt. I, The Bowdoin Drawings
Date: 1885

Type: catalogue
Author: Bowdoin College Museum of Art
Document Title: Bowdoin Museum of Fine Arts, Walker Art Building
Edition: 4th
Publ. Place: Brunswick, Maine
Reference: no. 35
Publisher: Bowdoin College
Section Title: Descriptive Catalogue of the . . .
Date: 1930

Type: exhibition catalogue
Author: David P. Becker
Document Title: Old Master Drawings at Bowdoin College
Publ. Place: Brunswick, Maine
Location: pp. 158-159
Reference: no. 74 (illus.)
Publisher: Bowdoin College
Date: 1985

Though varying birth dates are given in early biographies of de' Pietri, Byam Shaw has pointed out that the later date is inscribed on a self-portrait drawing in Stockholm.1 De' Pietri came to Rome at an early age, studying first with Giuseppe Ghezzi and Angelo Massarotti, then entering Maratti's studio. He executed several commissions for Roman families and churches and was elected to the Accademia di San Luca in 1711. He also executed several prints.2 Sizable groups of de' Pietri's drawings are in Windsor Castle, Düsseldorf, and Berlin.3 The group at Bowdoin College is also noteworthy, all coming from the original Bowdoin bequest. If they indeed were acquired by John Smibert in Italy, the presumed breakup of de' Pietri's studio at his death just prior to Smibert's arrival would explain the presence of such a large group at Bowdoin (including other sheets by students of Maratti).

The Bowdoin group includes examples of the two media used most often by de' Pietri — red chalk, and pen and brown ink with wash. Following the system used in Maratti's studio, de' Pietri made many preliminary sketches for his compositions; indeed, he often tried many variations before determining a final disposition of his subjects. A case in point is the subject of this drawing, for which a large number of drawn studies survive. Late in his career, de' Pietri finished both an etching of the Assumption of the Virgin4 and an oval ceiling of the same scene in the dome of Santa Maria alle Fornaci, Rome.5 The Bowdoin sheet is closely related to the etching and to several other drawn studies for the same work. Two sheets in the British Museum6 and the Art Institute of Chicago7 are particularly close. Also related is a double-sided sheet in the Chrysler Museum, Norfolk.8 All these drawings include the figures of the two saints at the tomb, with the Virgin being carried upward by angels. Three other studies are at Windsor.9

In all these studies, the artist has switched the positions of the figures, reversed the direction of the Virgin, and extensively explored differing attitudes of faces and arms. The multiplicity of changes renders a logical chronology difficult to establish. There is no final painted composition known of this particular scheme. The study in the British Museum clearly establishes the identity of the attendant saints by displaying their attributes of a crucifix and skull (St. Francis) and chasuble and lily (St. Philip Neri). Another, unidentified attendant holds the Virgin's shroud. Here, St. Francis is seen behind the tomb and St. Philip Neri anchors the right side of the composition. De' Pietri drawings are frequently double-sided; the Norfolk study and one of those at Windsor have drawings on both sides of the paper in the same scale.10

David P. Becker

1. Byam Shaw 1976, vol. I, p. 177, under no. 656. The Stockholm drawing is repr. in Clark 1967, pl. 4. Another attributed self-portrait drawing was sold at Christie's London, 4 July 1972, lot 110, repr.

2. The BCMA owns his etching of The Rescue of Souls from Purgatory (BCMA 1979.17).

3. An extensive listing of de' Pietri holdings, with references, is included in Philadelphia 1980-198 1, p. 17, under cat. no. 7.

4. Bartsch 21.292.1; the Metropolitan Museum of Art owns an impression.

5. A study for this ceiling is in Philadelphia, cf. Philadelphia 1980-1981, checklist no. 149.

6. Inv. no. 1946-2-9-34.

7. Inv. no. 1922.5476.

8. Inv. no. 50. 49.62a and b; repr. in E. M. Zafran, One Hundred Drawings in the Chrysler Museum at Norfolk (Norfolk, 1979), cat. no. 26.

9. Blunt and Cooke 1960, cat. nos. 686-687.

10. Ibid., cat. no. 686.

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).