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The project being developed here may never have been finished: there is no corresponding painting and the drawing does not bear any inscription. Furthermore De Dominici does not mention any painting of this subject. It may have been a project for a compartmented altarpiece like the Madonna del Carmine con i santi San Francesco d’Assisi e Francesco di San Paolo. In the Louvre there is a drawn study for such a work in compartments (inv. 1623). Here we recognize the father of monks and the founder of hermitism, St. Anthony, with the bell at the end of his staff and St. Catherine of Alexandria with the toothed wheel provided for her martyrdom. St. Francis of Paola, a mendicant saint from Calabria who was very popular in Southern Italy, is identifiable from his hooded robe, his wooden sandals and staff. He can be found in numerous works by Curia, in particular in an altarpiece in the church of San Giovanni a Carbonara on deposit at the Naples Soprintendenza, Madonna dell’Arco con i santi san Francesco di Paola, san Antonio di Padova e i commitenti, where he is identical but in the opposite direction. He also appears in another drawing related to an altarpiece (of the church of St. Anthony at Colobaro, on deposit at the Soprintendenza). Curia always shows the saint leaning on his staff which he holds with his two hands, a pose that derives from the portrait of the saint by Jean Bourdichon, sent by Francis I to Pope Leo X and of that by Baccio d’Agnolo conserved in the church of St. Francis of Paola of Montalto Uffugo. 1 Bernardo de Dominici, Vite dei Pittori, Scultori ed Architetti Napoletani, Naples, Tipografia Trani, 1843, vol. II, p. 335-336.

3 FRANCESCO Naples 1538 – 1610


Figure Studies Pen and brown ink 191 x 144 mm (7 ½ x 5 11/16 in.) This unpublished sheet is typical of Francesco Curia’s late style and the working sketches in which he traces figure studies in pen and brown ink over the entire surface, energetically combining

hatching and erasures, tests with the pen and annotations. It is possible to try to connect the group of five figures which is in the upper left side with that occupying the magnificent ceiling of Santa Maria la Nova. Similar positions and the same energy can be found there. Although De Dominici dates this ceiling around 1585, the author of the catalogue raisonné of the artist, Ippolita Di Majo opts rather for the beginning of the 17th century therefore the artist’s mature period, like our drawing. Examples of this type of sketch for study are common in the artist’s oeuvre. Many are in the Nationalmuseum of Stockholm in the “Curia Album” that contains almost 83 sheets - which in reality are not all by Curia since there are other authors, such as Battistello Caracciolo1- bought by the Swedish architect, Nicodemus Tessin the Younger during his stay in Naples in 1676. Carl Gustav Tessin, the former’s son, equally passionate about drawing, was obliged to sell his entire collection, including the album, to the Swedish royal family. A thorough study of this artist’s drawings, largely rediscovered during the second half of the 20th century by Per Bjurström and Causa Picone and published in a catalogue raisonné by Ippolita Di Majo, indeed show how his style evolved from an elegant mannerism towards an efficient and vigorous graphic style that is a precursor to artists of 17th century Naples such as Micco Spadaro and Massimo Stanzione. This type of sheet was used, not as a modello like the previous one, but the artist is testing the repetition of forms, experimenting slight variations and different arrangements, a sort of painter’s spectrum, in order to find the ideal form. The figures, at times taken from a slightly irreverential point of view, are made so as to appear from above to spectators placed lower down, reflecting the work of Correggio on perspective in


VII - Neapolitan Drawings / Dessins Napolitains - Marty de Cambiaire  
VII - Neapolitan Drawings / Dessins Napolitains - Marty de Cambiaire