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  • "91"
    Type: inscription
    Location: bottom
    Materials: black chalk
  • "S . 10"
    Type: inscription
    Location: verso
    Materials: pen and brown ink
  • "4"
    Type: inscription
    Materials: black chalk
  • 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)
  • Baroque Drawings
    • Bowdoin College Museum of Art. ( 2/3/1981 - 3/5/1981)
  • Drawing on Basics
    • Bowdoin College Museum of Art. ( 10/14/1993 - 12/19/1993)
Type: catalogue
Author: Henry Johnson
Document Title: Catalogue of the Bowdoin College Art Collections
Publ. Place: Brunswick, Maine
Reference: no. 92
Remarks: (as Unknown)
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. 92
Remarks: (as Unknown)
Publisher: Bowdoin College
Section Title: Descriptive Catalogue of the . . .
Date: 1930

Author: J. Montagu
Document Title: Arte illustrata, vol. 6, no. 55-56
Location: p. 338
Reference: no. 14
Section Title: Il primo relievo di marmo del Foggini
Date: 1973

Type: exhibition catalogue
Author: David P. Becker
Document Title: Old Master Drawings at Bowdoin College
Publ. Place: Brunswick, Maine
Location: pp. 144-145
Reference: no. 67
Publisher: Bowdoin College
Date: 1985

Ferri was the most prominent assistant and imitator of Pietro da Cortona. He became a member of the Accademia di San Luca in 1657 and worked in Florence for Grand Duke Ferdinando de' Medici and others from 1659 until 1665. After working in Bergamo and Venice, Ferri returned to Rome at Pietro da Cortona's death in 1669. He continued to work busily under both Florentine and Roman patronage, participating in the decorations for St. Peter's. Large groups of Ferri's drawings are in Paris and Florence, and numerous engravings, including book illustrations, were executed after his painted and drawn designs.

The basic composition of this Adoration of the Shepherds was an influential and often-repeated design in the da Cortona and Ferri studios.1 The Bowdoin sheet was first identified with da Cortona's school by Sir Robert Witt, and then with Ferri himself by Vitzthum. It poses several problems of chronology and purpose, however, and it is one of several closely related versions.

The closest is actually a Ferri drawing now lost and known only from an engraved copy by Conrad Metz, published in his Imitations of Drawings of 1798.2 The drawing was then in the collection of Lord St. Helens and was attributed to Ferri. If we trust the accuracy of the Metz copy (which is in reverse to the Bowdoin sheet), the Lord St. Helens sheet corresponds almost exactly to the black chalk portions of the Bowdoin drawing. However, the latter sheet has numerous pen and ink pentimenti in the heads and hands of the shepherds and in the entire figures of Joseph and the Christ Child. Further, there are a few red chalk additions to the shepherd at the right, the Virgin's veil, and the Christ Child. The size of the Bowdoin design and the Metz print are roughly the same.3 Since the Bowdoin sheet was at the College by 1811 and probably in this country by 1728, it cannot have been the Lord St. Helens model for the Metz print.4 Nor is it at all likely to be a counterproof of the Metz design.

Two other very close drawn versions of this design exist, one at Berlin attributed to Lazzaro Baldi5 and a copy in reverse to the Bowdoin sheet at Düsseldorf.6 The elements of the design are closely related to those in a small oil painting on copper by Ferri in the Denis Mahon Collection (also in reverse).7 A similar painting in the Prado, formerly given to da Cortona, has been attributed by Bruce Davis to Ferri; he has also identified a preparatory black chalk sketch for it in the Louvre.8 Nicholas Turner has further attributed a rapid pen sketch at Düsseldorf to Ferri, as a preliminary thought for the Bowdoin-Lord St. Helens composition.9

Black chalk is the usual medium for Ferri, even for his engraving studies, but at times his drawings are worked over in pen and ink, as this one is. The red chalk is unusual.

1. Da Cortona treated the subject in altarpieces in San Francesco, Aversa, and San Salvatore in Lauro, Rome (the latter repr. in G. Briganti, Pietro da Cortona o della pittora barocca [Florence, 1962], pl. 59). Drawn studies by da Cortona of the subject include one formerly with Pietro Scarpa (Paris, Grand Palais, Dessins anciens [exh. cat.] [Venice: Pietro Scarpa, 1978], cat. no. 35, repr.) and one in the Gabinetto Nazionale, Rome (Villa della Farnesino alla Lungara, Disegni di Pietro da Cortona e Ciro Ferri [exh. cat. by M. Giannatempo] [Rome, 1977] cat. no. 44, repr.). Jennifer Montagu (1973) has pointed out the influence of this composition on the early relief sculpture of Giovanni Battista Foggini.

2. Impression in the Witt Library; also repr. in Montagu 1973, p. 334, fig. 4.

3. The image on the Metz print measures 356 x 223 mm. Among the unknown qualities of the Lord St. Helens original are its direction, size, and medium; this author's tendency is to accept the Metz reproduction as a near-exact facsimile, rather than as a rough translation.

4. The collection would presumably have remained intact until its dispersal at auction in 1840 (F. Lugt, Répertoire des catalogues de vents publiques, vol. 2 [1826-1860] [The Hague, 1953], no. 15840 [Christie's London, 26 May 1840]).

5. Inv. no. KdZ 16643, repr. in Dreyer 1969, cat. no. 5, pl. 2.

6. Inv. no. FP 1588; I am grateful to Jörg Merz, through Bruce Davis, for this information.

7. Sold Sotheby's London, 26 April 1950, no. 129; photo in Witt Library.

8. The Davis attribution of the painting is on the Witt Library mount of the photo (under da Cortona); it is repr. in Prado, Pintura Italiana del Siglo XVII (exh. cat.) (Madrid, 1970), no. 57. The Louvre drawing photo is in the Ferri file at the Witt Library.

9. Inv. no. FP 11910, pen and brown ink, 89 x 100 mm.; I am grateful to Nicholas Turner for bringing this sheet to my attention and to both him and Bruce Davis for discussing the Bowdoin drawing and its attendant problems in great detail with me.

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).