Luca Cambiaso (Moneglia 1527-1585 Madrid)
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Luca Cambiaso (Moneglia 1527-1585 Madrid)

A sibyl reading a book (recto); A standing angel (verso, visible through the old mount)

Details
Luca Cambiaso (Moneglia 1527-1585 Madrid)
A sibyl reading a book (recto); A standing angel (verso, visible through the old mount)
traces of black chalk, pen and brown ink
11 ½ x 9 in. (29 x 23 cm)
Provenance
Possibly Émile Bernard, Paris (according to an inscription on the verso of the mount).
Anonymous sale; Gutekunst und Klipstein, Bern, 21-22 June 1949, lot 555, where acquired by Robert Landolt (L. 2223a).
Exhibited
Chur, Kunsthaus Chur, Aus Churer Privatbesitz. Graphik, Zeichnung, Aquarell, 1952, no. 130.
Zurich, Graphische Sammlung ETH, Zwiegespräch mit Zeichnungen. Werke des 15. bis 18. Jahrhunderts aus der Sammlung Robert Landolt, 2013-2014, no. 35, ill. (catalogue entry by M. Matile).
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Stijn Alsteens

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Lot Essay


Sibyls make frequent appearances in Luca Cambiaso’s drawn œuvre. Largely homogenous in both style and subject matter, these drawings were long thought to have been made as a single undertaking (B. Suida Manning and W. Suida, Luca Cambiaso: la vita e le opere, Milan, 1958, p. 189). Jonathan Bober, however, has suggested that they were made in a period spanning from the early 1550s until the mid-1570s (J. Bober, Luca Cambiaso. 1527-1585, exhib. cat., Austin, Blanton Museum of Art and Genoa, Palazzo Ducale, 2007, p. 252). While these drawings have been related to the sibyls in Cambiaso’s frescoes at San Matteo in Genoa from around 1560, Bober has demonstrated that none of the figures actually corresponds (ibid., p. 79). Instead, he suggests that ‘their format, with no hint of an architectural destination, their polish, and above all their virtuoso invention suggest that these drawings were conceived as a series of autonomous works’ (ibid., p. 80). As is the case in this fine example, probably drawn around 1565 (Matile, op. cit.), Cambiaso’s sibyls draw inspiration from Michelangelo's sculptural figures (the Sistine Chapel is generously staffed with prophets and prophetesses) and the calligraphic style of Perino del Vaga. At the same time, Cambiaso’s extreme economy of line and abbreviated style make these sybils stand out from those drawn and painted by his predecessors and give them their immediate and powerful quality. Comparable drawings of sibyls can be found in Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton (inv. 1948-640, 1948-654), the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart (inv. 6206), the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm (inv. NM 1590/1863), and the Palazzo Rosso, Genoa (inv. D 1858; see ibid., nos. 19, 20, 21a-b, 52, ill.).
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