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Elisabetta Sirani (Bologna 1638-1665)
Old Master Drawings from the Collection of Ann Sutherland Harris
Elisabetta Sirani (Bologna 1638-1665)

Study for the Madonna di Loreto with Saints Thomas of Villanova, Bernardino of Siena, Lawrence, Francis and Pellegrino

Details
Elisabetta Sirani (Bologna 1638-1665) Study for the Madonna di Loreto with Saints Thomas of Villanova, Bernardino of Siena, Lawrence, Francis and Pellegrino with inscription in ink 'Elisabetta Sirani' (verso) red chalk, brown wash on paper, watermark fleur-de-lys in a circle 6 ½ x 3 ¾ in. (16.5 x 9.7 cm)
Provenance
Giuseppe Vallardi, Milan (1784-1863) (L. 1223).
Carlo Prayer, Milan (1826-1900) (L.2044).
Juan and Felix Bernasconi (inscription on the verso); Christie's, London, 1 April 1987, lot 67.
Literature
B. Bohn, 'Elisabetta Sirani and Drawing Practices in Early Modern Bologna', Master Drawings, vol. 42, no. 3, 2004, pp. 218, 233 (n. 42).
C. Loisel, Musée du Louvre. Inventaire général des dessins italiens. Tome X, Dessins bolonais du XVIIe siècle, vol. II, Paris 2013, p. 512, under no. 941.
Exhibited
Pittsburgh, Frick Art & Historical Center, Pittsburgh Collects: European Drawings, 1500 to 1800, 2004-2005, no. 39 (entry by B. Bohn).

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Lot Essay

Exemplifying Sirani’s masterful wash technique, this drawing is a preparatory study for her altarpiece in San Giacomo Maggiore, Castelfranco Emilia (Modena), signed and dated 1663. The painting was commissioned by the Bolognese nobleman Lorenzo Zagoni for his family chapel in the church. While an earlier brush sketch at the Louvre (Loisel, op. cit., no. 941, ill.) shows Saint Thomas hatless at right, in the present sheet his position is more prominent and his figure is more fully developed. Drawings by European women artists from this period are rare, but roughly one hundred by Sirani are known, making her the most prolific female draftsman of Early Modern Italy, despite her early death.

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