Lelio Orsi (Novellara 1508/1511-1587)
Lelio Orsi (Novellara 1511-1597)

The Rest on the Flight into Egypt with Saint Anthony Abbot

Lelio Orsi (Novellara 1511-1597)
The Rest on the Flight into Egypt with Saint Anthony Abbot
with inscription 'Lelio Orsi da Novellara' and crossed out inscription (on the mount)
pen and brown ink
14 x 10¼ in. (35.5 x 26 cm)
John Barnard, London (d. 1784) (L. 1419, twice on the recto of the mount (once scratched out), and on the verso, with his shelfmark 'N° 163./ 14 by 10¼').
Sir Thomas Lawrence, London (1769-1830) (L. 2445).
M.H. Bloxam, by whom given to Rugby School Art Museum; with his inscription and attribution 'Rugby School Art Museum/ e dono Matt: H: Bloxam/ Orsi, Lelio da novellara/ a.d. 1511-1587' (on the mount).
Anne Popham, typescript catalogue, no. 28, as style of Lelio Orsi.

J.R. Hoffman, Lelio Orsi da Novellara (15111587). A stylistic chronology, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin, 1975, p. 160, no. 4, fig. 6.
D. de Grazia et al., Correggio and his Legacy: Sixteenth Century Emilian Drawings, exhib. cat., Washington, National Gallery, 1984, under no. 83, p. 254, note 2 (dated 1535-1540 by H MacAndrew).
V. Romani, Lelio Orsi, Modena, 1984, p. 90, note 32, fig. 74.

Reggio Emilia, Teatro Valli and elsewhere, Lelio Orsi, 1511-1587. Dipinti e disegni, exhib. cat., 1987-1988, no. 171, ill. (catalogue by N. Clerici Bagozzi).

Brought to you by

Phoebe Tronzo
Phoebe Tronzo

Lot Essay

Few drawings by the prolific and imaginative draughtsman Orsi speak as clearly of his admiration for Correggio. Directly inspired by his illustrious Emilian predecessor’s celebrated Madonna della Scodella (Galleria Nazionale, Parma; see lot 29, Fig. 1), Orsi’s composition, like that of Correggio, shows the Holy Family at the Rest on the Flight to Egypt, with Saint Joseph offering a handful of dates which the angels in the tree top have helped him harvest. At left in Orsi’s drawing, Saint Anthony Abbot – with his attribute, the bell – admires the Christ Child, who smiles at the viewer.

Hailed as ‘one of the most interesting recent additions to the corpus of drawings by the artist’ when it was first exhibited in the 1980s (exhib. cat., Reggio Emilia, op. cit., p. 196), the Bloxam sheet has been dated by Vittoria Romani to the first half of the 1570s, which makes it a work from the end of the artist’s long career. The dense penwork, supple hatching and general horror vacui, although present in other works by him, here reach a level of exceptional sophistication and vigour. The drawing has not been connected with any painting or other finished work, and must have been made as an independent work of art.

More from Old Masters/New Scholars: Works of Art Sold to Benefit Rugby School

View All
View All