Workshop of Francesco Squarcione (circa 1450-1460)
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Workshop of Francesco Squarcione (circa 1450-1460)

Studies of youths with staffs

Workshop of Francesco Squarcione (circa 1450-1460)
Studies of youths with staffs
with inscription ‘Carpatio’ (recto) and with attribution ‘PADUAN SCHOOL, XV CENT.’ (by A.E. Popham, on the mount)
black chalk, pen and brown ink, light brown wash heightened with white on grey-green prepared paper
10 5/8 x 8 in. (27 x 20 cm)
Unidentified collector’s mark, in gold, a lion rampant (L. 2798).
Unidentified collector’s mark, large armorial stamp (not in Lugt).
John Skippe (1742-1812), Upper Hall, Ledbury (on associated mount), by descent to
Edward Holland-Martin; Christie’s, London, 20-21 November 1958, lot 203, (100 gns. to Hans Calmann), from whom acquired by Robert Landolt.
A. Schmitt, ‘Francesco Squarcione als Zeichner und Stecher’, Münchner Jahrbuch der Bildenden Kunst, XXV, 1974, p. 212, note 2.
K. Christiansen, ‘Early Works: Padua’, in J. Martineau, ed., Andrea Mantegna, exhib. cat., Royal Academy, London and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1992, p. 112, n. 34 (the entire sketchbook, as Workshop of Squarcione).
M. Morgan Grasselli, ed., The Touch of the Artist. Master Drawings from the Woodner Collections, exhib. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1995, pp. 48, 51, under no. 7 (as Paduan School, 1470; catalogue entry by L. Armstrong).
D. Cordellier, ed., Documenti e fonti su Pisanello: 1395-1591 circa, (Verona illustrata, 8), 1995, pp. 178-79, under no. 84 (as Workshop of Squarcione).
G. Agosti, ‘Piccole osservazioni nell’area dello Squarcione’, in A. De Nicolò Salmazo, ed., Francesco Squarcione Pictorum gymnasiarcha singularis, Padua, 1999, pp. 59-60 (the entire sketchbook, as Workshop of Squarcione).
L. Armstrong, Studies in Renaissance Miniaturists in Venice, I, London, 2003, p. 85, no. 203 (as Workshop of Squarcione)
D. Banzato, A. De Nicolò Salmazo and A.M. Spiazzi, Mantegna e Padova, 1445-1460, exhib. cat., Musei Civici agli Eremitani, Padua, 2006, under nos. 56-57 (the entire sketchbook, as ‘Paduan School, Workshop of Squarcione?’ entry by G. Marini).
A. Robison, La poesia della luce. Disegni veneziani dalla National Gallery of Art di Washington/ The Poetry of Light. Venetian Drawings from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, exhib. cat., Museo Correr, Venice, 2014, p. 36, under no. 4 (as Studio of Squarcione).
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Lot Essay

This intriguing early work was originally part of a sketchbook which included at least twelve drawings of similar dimensions, executed in pen and ink on variously prepared papers (blue, green, pink and brown), formerly in the collection of the English amateur John Skippe. While the full sketchbook was possibly acquired by Skippe during his stays in Venice and Padua, where he travelled in 1773 to see frescoes by Giotto and Mantegna, the surviving sheets are now divided between Amsterdam (Rijksprentenkabinet, inv. RP-T-1959-75), Berlin (Kupferstichkabinett, inv. KdZ 24774), London (The Courtauld Gallery, inv. 4670), Rotterdam (Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum, inv. I 181), Munich (Staatliche Graphische Sammlung inv. 1973:10, 31), National Gallery of Art (Woodner Collection inv. 2011.42.4) and two private collections (see Mantegna e Padova, 1445-1460, no. 57). In 1939 A.E. Popham first described the drawings as products from the workshop of Francesco Squarcione, and narrowed their execution to two separate artists, one being closer to Marco Zoppo.

Master to many great Northern Italian artists, most notably Andrea Mantegna, the painter, sculptor, tailor and designer Francesco Squarcione was the head of Padua’s most advanced artistic workshop. In his teaching he emphasized the study of the antique, and gave a prominent role to the practice of drawing, both in the training of young artists and in the creative process. While Annegrit Schmidt attributed the sketchbook to Squarcione himself, the majority of scholars have generally agreed with Popham’s attribution and dated the sheets around the most important commission that involved the workshop of Squarcione, the decoration of the Ovetari chapel of circa 1448-1457. Schmidt also tentatively identified the sketchbook with a book of drawings of antique sculptures, battles of centaurs, fauns and satyrs and men and women on horseback, donated by Ludovico Gonzaga to Andrea Mantegna in 1476, which has been more plausibly associated with a lost sketchbook by Pisanello (see Cordellier, op. cit.).

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