Campora“, La pittura in Italia, il Settecento, Milan, Electa, 1990, vol. II, p. 647-648. 2 These three large canvas were destroyed in a 1777 fire and all that nowadays remains are three bozzetti (Museo Capodimonte, Naples, Collection Banca Popolare di Sondrio; Musée des BeauxArts, Rennes.) 3 This citation comes from San Pier d’Arena website (also Sampierdarena) : www.sanpierdarena.net/MARTINO%20san%20 ORATORIO.htm. 4 Cesare Ripa, Iconologie, Paris, Louis Billaine, 1677, p. 159-160 : [“A woman dressed in white, wearing a helmet, in her right hand, a candle on a heart, and in the left, the Tablets of the Commandments and an open book. Faith, as a theological virtue, wears the helmet to show that to have true Faith, the innocent must be protected from the blows of enemy weapons that are the natural rationalism of the philosophers and disputatious sophisms of heretics and bad Christians, firmly keeping to the evangelical doctrine and God’s commandments […] the book and tablets of Moses are the union of the old and new testaments, of all that in which we must believe which are the commandments of Christ our Lord with those of the Ancient Law in accordance with his words: ‘I have not come to destroy the Law but to accomplish it.’ The heart held with the candle in the hand shows the illumination of the soul born through faith, which chases away the darkness of the blasphemy and ignorance.”]
Messina 1688 – 1743
Study for the Figure of Christ Black and red chalk, squared for transfer with black chalk Inscribed lower centre Paolo filocami 391 x 228 mm (15 3/8 x 9 in.) The inscription at the bottom of this drawing refers to the workshop of the Filocamo brothers, Antonio, Paolo and Gaetano, three brothers from Messina who learned the basics in Rome under Carlo Maratta and who established a drawing and nude academy in their hometown in order to pass on the art of drawing “in the Roman manner”, of which this beautiful sheet is evidence. Their drawings have recently been studied by Simonetta Prosperi Valenti Rodinò1 and by Roberta Vitanza.2 The major difficulty in developing their career and identifying their drawings lies in the damage suffered by their works and decors as a result of the two earthquakes of 1783 and 1908. This is the case for the Baptism of Christ in the church of Sant’Elia of Messina, which was damaged in 1783 at the same time as the vault and was also painted by Paolo Filocamo and his brothers. However, the silhouette of Christ can still be made out, in reverse, but in the same position, arms crossed and the knee bent against a rock, which gives it the impression of floating slightly. Our sheet is perhaps a preparatory study. It is also possible to mention a drawing sold in the past at Christie’s as Guglielmo Cortese, a figure study in black and red chalk like ours, bearing exactly the same inscription by the same hand, with the same sophisticated capitals.3 Roberta Vitanza has told us that it is also to be found on a drawing in Darmstadt Hessisches Landesmuseum and that it could be the handwriting of a collector. Like ours, the Christie’s sheet is influenced by Roman baroque
and reflects the teachings of the Accademia di San Luca. They ally the study of real, vigorous anatomy and a veritable elegance of pose and movement as well as an interest in texture. They date to the same period and certainly both belong to the cycle of Sant’Elia, although it is difficult to prove this due to the extremely bad condition of the frescoes. Other sheets, most often composition studies in pen and brown ink, mainly conserved in Germany, in Berlin or Darmstadt, have a rounder style. Simonetta Prosperi Valenti Rodinò recalls that since the brothers opened an academy that is mentioned in most Sicilian sources, these inscriptions could be marks indicating that they belong to certain groups of drawings for the purpose of teaching. We are especially grateful to Roberta Vitanza for the information she has so kindly provided. 1 Simonetta Prosperi Valenti Rodinò, “Precisazioni su Paolo Filocamo disegnatore”, Per Citti Siracusano, Studi sulla pittura del Settecento in Italia, edited by Gioachino Barbera, Messina, 2012, p.107-112. 2 Roberta Vitanza is the author of the “Tor Vergata” dissertation on the graphic, painted and engraved production of Antonio, Paolo and Gaetano Filocamo, 2008-2009, Universita degli Studi di Roma, as well as a recent article: “Su un disegno inedito di Antonio Filocamo”, in Per Citti Siracusano, Studi sulla pittura del Settecento in Italia, p. 103-106. 3 London, Christie’s, 7 July 1998, lot 14 as Guglielmo Cortese.
126 NEAPOLITAN DRAWINGS
Published on Mar 11, 2014