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Guercino (Italian, 1591-1666) Study for St. John the Baptist

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American & European Works of Art - 3100B
Date / Time :
May 11, 2018 10:00AM


Guercino (Italian, 1591-1666)

Study for St. John the Baptist
Brown ink and wash on paper, 10 1/2 x 7 5/8 in. (26.5 x 19.2 cm), framed.
Condition: Sheet lined with laid paper backing, tears and losses to the l.r. quadrant, toning, staining.

N.B. This study for St. John the Baptist has been reviewed by Dr. Nicholas Turner from high resolution photographs. Dr. Turner believes the work to be a newly-rediscovered, authentic drawing by Guercino, made in preparation for his oil painting, St. John the Baptist, now on permanent display in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Guercino's Vienna picture, created for the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinando III in 1641, was the most prestigious commission of the artist's career. Dr. Turner writes, "Guercino's pen-and-ink drawings from the early 1640s, like this example, are powerful and fast-paced in execution and have long been admired for their energy." Dr. Turner continues that the single largest group of Guercino's drawings to have remained together are now in the Royal Library of Windsor Castle, purchased from Guercino's heirs in the late 1750s. The Windsor collection includes a copy of the study at hand, which Dr. Turner now believes to be a facsimile copy made by Francesco Bartolozzi (Italian, 1727-1815).

A letter from Nicholas Turner with a more complete analysis of the drawing accompanies the lot.
Estimate $800-1,200

Detached label from Bethlehem Art Gallery, Newburgh, New York, on the frame backing.

Provenance: A New York estate.

A Boston-area conservator reviewed the drawing. His opinion is that the sheet can be cleaned up, including toning caused by acidity. One might get a slight shadow where the water stain is at bottom. The stain at u.r. is probably oil so it will lighten but not come out completely. The drawing is on thin paper backed by a thicker paper. The conservator does not recommend removing the sheet from the backing, especially with the losses at l.r. The flaking can be stabilized. He said the ink was oxidizing and rotting away at the paper. While not perfect, it can be much improved through conservation.

The absence of a condition statement does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition or completely free from wear and tear, imperfections or the effects of aging. Condition requests can be obtained via email (lot inquiry button) or by telephone to the appropriate gallery location (Boston/617.350.5400 or Marlborough/508.970.3000). Any condition statement given, as a courtesy to a client, is only an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact. Skinner Inc. shall have no responsibility for any error or omission.


Ferdinando III, Nicholas Turner, Francesco Bartolozzi, Windsor, Drawing, English art, Guercino, J. M. W. Turner, Painting, Visual arts