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  • "Vani da Siena"
    Type: inscription
    Location: verso of former mount (lost)
    Materials: pen and ink
  • "P. L." (Lugt 2092) - mark of Sir Peter Lely (artist) (1618-1680)
    Type: collector's mark
  • 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)
  • The Draftsman's Eye: Late Renaissance Schools and Styles
  • In Quest of Excellence: Civic Pride, Patronage, Connoisseurship
  • Drawing on Basics
    • Bowdoin College Museum of Art. ( 10/14/1993 - 12/19/1993)
  • For all the Saints
    • Bowdoin College Museum of Art. ( 11/10/2009 - 1/10/2010)
  • Old Master Drawings from the Bowdoin College Museum of Art
    • Timken Museum of Art. ( 5/13/2005 - 8/14/2005)
Type: catalogue
Author: Henry Johnson
Document Title: Catalogue of the Bowdoin College Art Collections
Publ. Place: Brunswick, Maine
Reference: no. 15
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. 15
Publisher: Bowdoin College
Section Title: Descriptive Catalogue of the . . .
Date: 1930

Type: exhibition catalogue
Author: E. J. Olszewski and J. Glaubinger
Document Title: The Draftsman's Eye:  Late Italian Renaissance Schools and Styles
Publ. Place: Cleveland
Location: p. 97
Reference: no. 72 (recto and verso illus.)
Publisher: Cleveland Museum of Art
Date: 1981

Type: exhibition catalogue
Author: Jan van der Marck
Document Title: In Quest of Excellence
Publ. Place: Miami
Location: p. 238
Reference: no. 41 (illus.)
Publisher: Center for the Fine Arts
Section Title: Civic Pride, Patronage, Connoisseurship
Date: 1984

Type: exhibition catalogue
Author: David P. Becker
Document Title: Old Master Drawings at Bowdoin College
Publ. Place: Brunswick, Maine
Location: pp. 108-111
Reference: no. 50
Publisher: Bowdoin College
Date: 1985

Type: paper
Author: Susan E. Wegner
Document Title: Images of the Madonna and Child by Three Tuscan Artists of the Early Seicento
Publ. Place: Brunswick, Maine
Location: pp. 8-20, 26-29, 36, 37
Reference: figs. 1, 2
Publisher: Bowdoin College
Section Title: Vanni, Roncalli, and Manetti
Date: 1986

The attribution to Vanni of this double-sided sheet is traditional, deriving from the old inscription on the former mount. Vanni first trained in Siena with his stepfather, Arcangelo Salimbeni, and after Salimbeni's death in 1580 he traveled to Rome, where he studied for two years. He worked there with Giovanni de' Vecchi, in addition to studying works of antiquity and Renaissance masterpieces. After journeying to Bologna and Lombardy around 1584, he settled in Siena for the rest of his career. Vanni continued to work for Roman patrons and executed The Fall of Simon Magus, a large altarpiece for St. Peter's, in 1603.

Alessandro Bagnoli, Peter Anselm Riedl, and Susan Wegner have accepted Vanni's authorship of the Bowdoin sheet, but recently other scholars have preferred to place it in a Florentine context. Both Pouncey and Turner have tentatively suggested Cigoli, while Chappell has pointed toward Giovanni Bilivert, Baldassare Franceschini (Volterrano), or Pignoni. Chiara d'Afflitto has proposed Ottavio Vannini as a possibility.1

However, Wegner has proposed both drawn comparisons with the Bowdoin sheet and convincing relationships with several small devotional paintings executed by Vanni around 1600.2 The expressive sketchiness of the studies on each side renders precise correspondences difficult, but certain chalk studies in Siena and Florence are comparable. A sheet in Siena contains a close parallel with the two babies on the recto of the Bowdoin drawing.3 As Wegner has pointed out, the head of the Virgin on both sides of this sheet is shifted between two positions, with the artist developing alternate solutions in each case; another Vanni chalk study in the Uffizi for a painting of St. Thomas Nacci shows a similar treatment of shifting expression.4

Vanni produced quite a few small-scale paintings of the Virgin and Child, among which Wegner has found similarities to the Bowdoin drawing in The Madonna and Child with a Book in the Church Gallery of the Gerolamini, Naples (particularly with the verso), and Madonna and Child with Saints in the Borghese Gallery, Rome.5 All the paintings share with the Bowdoin sheet a carefully refined, almost sweet, relationship of the Christ Child with the Madonna, often involving an upward or backward glance toward his mother as he moves outward in another gesture. The verso of the Bowdoin sketch shows the Christ Child holding a book, as in the Naples painting cited above. None of the paintings cited show the infant St. John as he appears in the recto of the Bowdoin drawing.

This drawing has been cut from a considerably larger sheet of sketches, perhaps including several more variations on the Madonna and Child theme. At the left edge of the verso there is what appears to be a fragment of another sketch of the standing Christ Child.

David P. Becker

1. Pouncey and Turner in conversation with the author, 1983; Chappell in letters to the author, 8 September and 29 November 1983; d'Afflitto in conversation with Katharine Watson, 1982.

2. A detailed article by Susan Wegner on this sheet is in preparation, from which much of the following information is derived. I am extremely grateful to her for discussing this drawing in great detail and sharing much unpublished information.

3. Biblioteca Comunale, Inv. no. S. III. 9/56 verso; repr. in P. A. Riedl, "Zu Francesco Vannis Tätigkeit für römische Auftraggeber," Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institut in Florenz, vol. 22, no. 3 (1978), p. 345, fig. 42.

4. Inv. no. 1696E, repr. Uffizi, Disegni dei Barocceschi Senesi — Francesco Vanni e Ventura Salimbeni (exh. cat. by P. A. Riedl) (Florence, 1976), cat. no. 8, fig. 9.

5. The Borghese painting is Inv. no. 62.

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).