Antonio Allegri, il Correggio (Correggio 1489?-1534)
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Antonio Allegri, il Correggio (Correggio 1489?-1534)

A seated man leaning on a book, with a subsidiary study below

Antonio Allegri, il Correggio (Correggio 1489?-1534)
A seated man leaning on a book, with a subsidiary study below
red chalk
140 x 111 mm.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 6 July 1987, lot 25 (to Dreesmann). Dr Anton C.R. Dreesmann (inventory no. B-121).
N. Turner, Review of the Exhibition Correggio and his Legacy, The The Burlington Magazine, October 1984, CXXVI, no. 2, p. 657, fig. 60.
M. di Giampaolo and A. Muzzi, Correggio, I disegni, Milan, 1988, no. 20.
L. Fornari Schianchi, 'Parmigianino: un inedito esordio sulla cupola di Correggio', in Un miracolo d'arte senza esempio. La Cupola del Correggio in San Giovanni Evangelista in Parma, Parma, 1990, pp. 65 and 78, note 4.
M. di Giampaolo, Correggio disegnatore, Correggio, 2001, p. 44, no. 15.
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Lot Essay

A preliminary study for one of the seated apostles in the cupola of San Giovanni Evangelista in Parma. On 6 July 1520 Correggio received the first instalment of the 130 gold ducats he would eventually be paid when he completed the decoration of the Church's cupola and tribune four years later. Little evidence remains of Correggio's early ideas for what was to prove a very challenging commission. Only five drawings for the cupola survive: three studies of separate apostles which are respectively in the Albertina, the British Museum and the Louvre, another sheet of two apostles also in the Louvre, and a sketch in the Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin for what Popham believed must represent a quarter of the lower part of the cupola, depicting three apostles and their attendant putti, A. E. Popham, Correggio's Drawings, London, 1957, p. 29, nos. 11-15. While the present sheet does not exactly correspond with any of the apostles in the cupola, its connection with this commission is indicated by the similar di sotto in su pose and red chalk handling of the figure comparable with the existing studies. That the present drawing can even arguably be a primo pensiere for the commission is suggested by the fact that the ledge on which the figure rests partially obscures its upper leg and buttocks. The cupola rose above a deeply projecting double cornice and was illuminated only by the four round windows which pierced the band between the two cornices. Correggio must have struggled with several schemes to utilize the available light, which would have been strongest at the bottom of the cupola and weakest at its centre.

As Mario di Giampaolo notes, this present sheet was first published by Nicholas Turner in 1984, and can be compared with the single apostle study in the Louvre (inv. 5917; Popham, op. cit., no. 17), which is similar in the alternating assertiveness and delicacy of the figure's red chalk outline, although the figure depicted is seated in a different position, M. di Giampaolo, op. cit., under no. 15.

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