In 1640 Andrea Sacchi received a commission for a large painting to record the festivities held in the Church of the Gesù, Rome, commemorating the first centenary of the Jesuit Order. Identified by Ann Sutherland Harris, the present drawing was made to study the lighting and tonal relationships of the most important group of figures attending the ceremony: the Father General of the Jesuit Order kneeling before Pope Urban VIII Barberini and his cardinal nephews, with other high ranking Church officials. The artist used the brush tip to lay in most of the figures only after lightly sketching the main contours of each character. Sacchi likely executed this drawing on the spot, during the celebration, and painted this group himself, while he provided Jan Miel (1599-1663) with the designs for the figures assembled in the foreground.
Fig. 1. Andrea Sacchi, with Jan Miel and Filippo Gagliardi, Pope Urban VIII visiting the Gesù during the centenary celebration of the Jesuit Order, Gallerie Nazionali d'Arte Antica - Palazzo Barberini, Rome (on long term deposit, Museo di Roma, Palazzo Braschi, Rome).