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Allegories of Temperance and Prudence (after figures by RAPHAEL)
pen and brown ink with wash and white heightening, laid down on an eighteenth-century mount; 268 x 210 mm (10 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches)
Jonathan Richardson, sr. (1665–1745), London (his drystamp Lugt 2184)
Sir Francis Ferrand Foljambe (1750–1814), Osberton Hall, Scofton near Worksop, Nottinghamshire;
thence by descent
The two female allegories in this intriguing drawing are both derived from models by Raphael. The figure on the right is closely copied from the sibyl furthest to the left in the fresco decorating the arch in the Chigi Chapel in Santa Maria della Pace in Rome of ca. 1511. The source for the woman seated in the front is somewhat more obscure. Her pose—especially in its original form before the bold retouching that pulls both her legs back into a crouching position—could be based on the muse seated just below Apollo in Raphael’s Parnassus in the Stanze di Raffaello in the Vatican, also painted in 1511. The figure represents Erato, holding a kithara with her left hand. However, her head is turned back and looks up to Apollo whereas in our drawing the female virtue looks straight ahead to the right and the musical instrument is now changed into a bridle, the attribute of Temperance. Yet there are many other permutations of Raphael’s invention that might have served as a model for our draftsman. The figure of Erato reappears as Ariadne in Primaticcio’s King Minos Judging the Dead in the Galerie d’Ulysse in Fontainebleau. Primaticcio’s frescos, executed between 1541 and 1570, were visited by Rubens between 1622 and 1625 and copied in a ravishing sketch (now in the Louvre); they were also widely disseminated through Theodoor van Thulden’s set of etchings, published under the title Les Traveaux d’Ulysse in Paris in 1640, and could therefore easily have found their way into a Flemish workshop by the mid-seventeenth century.
Nicholas Turner has pointed out that the young Guercino had reinterpreted the same Raphaelesque models for his figures of the Four Cardinal Virtues in a monochrome fresco on the facade of the town hall of Cento—his first public commission dating from 1613 (e-mail of January 8, 2014). However, by this time some repositioning has already happened and it seems less likely that this fresco (known today only from two preliminary drawings) provided the direct model for our drawing. Another argument against the Guercino model are the annotations found on our drawing, all of them apparently color notes (whereas Guercino’s fresco was a grisaille): Next to the right arm of the figure on the left one can read wit doorschynich (transparent white); at the lower center F. geelachtich wit (yellowish white), immediately above this E. brokaat (brocade), and next to the head of the figure in the background G.omberagtich (amber-like). Jeremy Wood has kindly transcribed these annotations for us. He further notes: “As the inscribed uppercase letters on the figures are F, G, H, it suggests that the drawing was larger and with more figures with at least five more color notes (A–E). These figures may have been the remaining five Virtues, or maybe just the two other Cardinal Virtues (Justice and Fortitude)” (e-mail of January 17, 2014).
There are various stylistic elements that lead to a comparison of our drawing with a sheet in the École des beaux-arts in Paris depicting Saints Distributing Alms. It is attributed to Abraham van Diepenbeck (1596 s’Hertogenbosch–Antwerp 1675) and appears to be a preparatory drawing for an oil sketch by the artist, which is now in the Johnson Collection in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The drawing does not, however, show many similarities to only very tentatively established drawn oeuvre of Diepenbeck. Stefan Hautekeete dates the drawing equally late but instead sees a closeness in “face type, clothing, and attitude” to Erasmus Quellinus the Younger (1607–Antwerp–1678). “Quellinus as author of this drawing would also explain the classicizing touch that is echoing the sixteenth century” (e-mail of March 5, 2014).
While we believe that due to its “fluent construction” and “new optical conception” of the way light is represented falling on to the figures (Jonathan Bober in conversation) our drawing presupposes the art of Rubens, made by an artist who might even have been to Italy in the first decades of the seventeenth century, some scholars have argued for an earlier origin. Stijn Alsteens has linked it to Frans Floris the Elder (1519/20–Antwerp–1570), comparing it especially with his The Metamorphosis of Cyane from the Weld-Blundell Collection, now in the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, one of the few fully accepted sheets by Floris (e-mail of December 7, 2013). While Arnout Balis does not agree with an attribution to Floris, he would nevertheless like to keep the drawing “certainly [in] the circle of that master, and not Rubens. The closest match for [him] is Crispijn van den Broecke” (ca. 1524 Mechelen–Antwerp before 1591; e-mail of February 10, 2014). Both attributions would place our drawing in Antwerp within the second half of the sixteenth century.