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The Madonna and Sleeping Child with the Infant Baptist (‘Il Silenzio’)

The Madonna and Sleeping Child with the Infant Baptist (‘Il Silenzio’)
black chalk, pen and brown ink, with ink number ‘1086’ lower right, watermark figure inscribed in a circle
4 5/8 x 6 5/8 in. (12.7 x 16.8 cm)
Duke of Alva, Spain.
Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830), London (L. 2445).
Samuel Woodburn (1786-1853), London (L. 2584).
Lord Francis Egerton, 1st Earl of Ellesmere (1800-1857), London (L. 2710b); by descent to
John Egerton, 6th Duke of Sutherland (1915-2000); Sotheby’s, London, 11 July 1972, lot 59.
with C.G. Boerner, Düsseldorf.
Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, acquired 1976; Sotheby’s, London, 6 July 1987, lot 2.
Catalogue of the Ellesmere Collection of Drawings at Bridgewater House, London, 1898, no. 27.
P.A. Tomory, The Ellesmere Collection of Old Master Drawings, Leicester, 1954, no. 46, pl. XXXI.
M. Levey, The Later Italian Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen at Hampton Court, London, 1964, p. 58, under no. 432.
D. Posner, Annibale Carracci, London, 1971, II, p. 53, under no. 122.
G. Malafarina, L'Opera Completa di Annibale Carracci, Milan, 1976, under no. 114, ill.
Kimbell Art Museum, Handbook of the Collection, Fort Worth, 1981, p. 139, ill.
L. Whitaker and M. Clayton, The Art of Italy in the Royal Collection. Renaissance and Baroque, London 2007, p. 260, under no. 90.
London, Lawrence Gallery. Sixth Exhibition, A Catalogue of One Hundred Original Drawings by Lodovico, Agostino and Annibale Carracci, collected by Sir Thomas Lawrence, Late President of the Royal Academy, 1836, no. 79.
Leicester, Leicester Museum and Art Gallery, Old Master Drawings, 1952, no. 8.
London, P. and D. Colnaghi, Drawings by the Carracci and other Masters from the Collection of the Earl of Ellesmere, 1955, no. 27.
Bologna, Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio, Mostra dei Carracci. I Disegni, 1956, no. 111 (catalogue by D. Mahon).
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, King’s College, The Carracci Drawings and Paintings, 1961, no. 150 (catalogue by Ralph Holland).
Hamburg, Kunsthalle, The Ellesmere Collection of Drawings by the Carracci and other Bolognese Masters, 1972, no. 59.
Düsseldorf, C.G. Boerner, nfzig alte Zeichnungen vor 1850, 1972, no. 12, ill.
Special notice
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Lot Essay

This intimate drawing is a study for Annibale’s Madonna and sleeping Child with the infant Baptist in the Royal Collection (fig.; see Levey, op. cit., no. 432, ill.; Posbner, op. cit., no. 122, ill.). The small devotional painting, also known as Il Silenzio, was made between 1597 and 1601, when Annibale was completing the ceiling of the gallery at Palazzo Farnese in Rome. The painting was presumably also a Farnese commission as is recorded for the first time in the family’s Palazzo del Giardino in Parma in 1678. The seventeenth-century biographer Giulio Cesare Malvasia affectionately described the painting as a ‘Small Madonna who with her finger to her mouth cautions Saint John not to touch the sleeping Lord’ (Felsina pittrice, Bologna, 1678, I, p. 508: ‘una Madonna picciola, ch’accenna col deto alla bocca a S. Giovanni, che non tocchi il Signore che dorme’). The Virgin’s gesture has been interpreted as a sign of caution to John not to awaken Christ to his Passion before his time (Posner, op. cit., p. 53). The style of this study, freely drawn in black chalk and then reworked with rapid strokes of pen and ink, anticipates the highly expressive drawings of the artist’s last years (C. van Tuyll van Serooskerken, Annibale Carracci. Drawings from the Artists Last Years, New York, 2020).

Fig. Annibale Carracci, The Madonna and Sleeping Child with the Infant Baptist (‘Il Silenzio’). Royal Collection, Hampton Court.

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