[The Capture of Christ]
This drawing represents the central portion and main action of the painting--Christ's betrayal by Judas--of the Garden of Gethsemane. Dating is difficult, but it is likely that the sheet belongs to the artist Ercole de Roberti's lifetime or closely thereafter, when his works were popular. Often drawings such as this were made as aids in the artist's studio in order to reproduce a popular composition in later painted works. Blue paper was an often used support for drawings in northern Italy in the late 15th and 16th centuries.
Inscribed in pencil on mat: "Ercole Grandi 15th c."
William Esdaile (Lugt 2617, lower right recto). Baer Collection (according to note on mat and in card catalog).
Title, attribution, date, subject, and physical description by Diane de Grazia, 2014.
This sheet is a copy after the Ferrarese artist Ercole de' Roberti, whose few authentic drawings are freer in conception. Possibly, the work is a copy of a lost drawing by Roberti, but it seems removed from his style, and its harshness suggests it is likely a copy after another copy of Roberti's painting of the Garden of Gethsemane, now in the Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden (inv. no. 45; repr. Joseph Manca, The Art of Ercole de' Roberti, Cambridge, 1992, pl. 14a). The Garden of Gethsemane belongs with another panel of the Ascent to Calvary, also in Dresden (Manca, fig. 14b). The two panels flanked a larger painting of the Pieta (Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery, inv. no. 2773, Manca, fig. 14c) and were made ca. 1483-86 for the high altar of San Giovanni in Monte, Bologna. (On the history of the paintings see Manca 1992, pp. 126-130).
Condition assessment: Laid down. Losses and smudges. Filled upper right and left corners and in lower center edge. Oxidation and scrapes and smudges overall, 2014.