[Landscape with a castle on a hill and three figures and horse]
- Upscale 2x1280x616
It is tempting to suggest that the subject is the Flight into Egypt. The figure to the left of the donkey appears to have wings. Perhaps Mary is standing with the child, and Joseph, on the donkey, is pointing the way (although one expects Mary to be on the donkey and Joseph walking). The early seventeenth century was a period of transition in landscape painting from the inclusion of religious and mythological subject matter supported by a landscape background to the landscape becoming the sole subject of a picture. Grimaldi always included figures in his landscapes, usually indicating a religious or mythological subject, but the figures are small in comparison to the nature depicted, pointing to the future path landscape painting would take.
This sheet has another drawing on back titled: Landscape with a turret by a river with a figure in the foreground.
Gardiner Greene Hubbard Collection.
Blind stamp: Lugt suppl. 1267b.
Inscription, lower right in black chalk: "3[?]315."
Title, attribution, date, subject, and physical description by Diane de Grazia, 2011.
Former title from Catalog of the Gardiner Greene Hubbard collection of Engravings, 1905, p. 371.
Arthur Jeffrey Parsons, Catalog of the Gardiner Greene Hubbard Collection of Engravings, Washington, 1905, p. 371 (as Claude Lorrain).
Marcel G. Roethlisberger, "Some Early Clouds," Gazette des Beaux-Arts, vol. 111, May-June, 1988, pp. 289-291.
Gift; Gertrude Hubbard; 1898; (DLC/PP-1898:R01).
The drawing was previously associated with Claude Lorrain according to its attribution in the Hubbard catalogue. It was attributed to Grimaldi by Diane De Grazia Bohlin (note on mat) and published as such by Marcel Roethlisberger. As noted by Roethlisberger, the recto is reminiscent of the art of Paul Bril and Bartolomeus Breenbergh, whose works in Italy would have been known to Grimaldi.
The old attribution of this drawing to Claude Lorrain is understandable: the pen and ink and wash of the recto is consistent with that master's technique. However, the fluffy trees and the flattened application of the wash are reminiscent of Grimaldi's drawings. The figures on horseback appear in some of his prints (see, e.g. Bartsch 2-3). The compositions on both the recto and verso of this sheet are typical of Grimaldi: his landscapes are divided along horizontal planes leading into the distance, often with figures in the foreground at the side and a fortress on a hill, and, often, an arched bridge crossing a river (see, e.g. Bartsch 33). The buildings and landscape here suggest the Roman campagna, where Grimaldi received most of his inspiration. It is not possible to identify an exact building or place since Grimaldi evidently made composites of the sites he saw.
There is a fresco by Grimaldi in the Gallery of the Palazzo Muti-Papazzurri (now Balestra) in Rome (repr. Anna Maria Matteucci, Giovanni Francesco Grimaldi, Bologna, 2002, p. 13, fig. 10) that has a similar three-arched bridge over a river, to the left of which is a round building and crenelated wall similar to the drawing on the verso of this sheet. In another fresco in the same palace, there is a town on a hill (see Matteucci, fig. XXXVIII). Although somewhat different from the drawing, which is not a study for the painting, it suggests that Grimaldi referred to sheets like these for ideas for his various paintings. For a discussion of the palace, constructed in the second half of the seventeenth century (see Matteucci, pp.161). Since Grimaldi's landscape drawings tend to repetition of motif and style, it is difficult to date them with accuracy when they are not preparatory for a known painting or fresco.
Condition assessment: Foxed and dirty, 2014.