This previously unpublished drawing is related to Samacchini's fresco in one of the vaults of Sant'Abbondio in Cremona, executed late in the artist's career - probably in the early 1570s, after the death of Giulio Campi, the pre-eminent painter in Cremona at the time who had initially been commissioned to decorate the church interior (see V. Fortunati Pietrantonio, Pittura bolognese del '500, II, Bologna, 1986, p. 678). The fresco related to this drawing flanks a central panel of the Assumption of the Virgin.
There are some differences between the drawing and painting with slight variations to the drapery, and the absence of two putti in the lower left corner. The composition is also more compressed in the present drawing. Another drawing of this composition in the Albertina (inv. 1966; V. Birke and J. Kertész, Die Italianische Zeichnungen der Albertina, II, Vienna, 1994, pp. 1030-31), executed in black chalk, pen, and wash, includes the putto in the lower left corner holding a tablet, with all the figures in an inscribed arch - as in the actual fresco. The present drawing was probably made before the Albertina sheet, at an earlier stage of the creative process. The Vienna drawing - more highly finished and closer in composition to the fresco - expresses a more complete pictorial vision.
The present drawing is typical of Samacchini's late style with its sharp, angular contours and skilful use of wash and the paper reserve to create shading and volume without the use of hatching (see for example his Presentation in the Temple in the Detroit Institute of Arts, illus. in G. Smith, 'A drawing by Orazio Samacchini for his Presentation in the Temple', Master Drawings, XIII, no. 4, pl. 21). Characteristic as well are the thick, stylized curls of the prophet's beard and the deftly depicted perspective seen from below.
Other drawings by Samacchini have been linked to the Sant'Abbondio prophet frescoes. Philip Pouncey identified two drawings in the Louvre: a Saint Matthew (inv. 10243), and another of an angel surrounded by angel musicians (inv. 4390). Another drawing for the prophet in the opposite vault is in the Janos Scholz Collection in the Morgan Library and Museum (inv. 1981.20). Further studies are in the British Museum (inv. 1936-12-12-34), Uffizi (inv. 4461S), and the National Museum, Stockholm (inv. 443/1863).