The Sacred Heart appearing to Sainte Marguerite-Marie Alacoque (1647-1690)
pen and brown ink with grey wash over black chalk, within drawn lines on paper
103 x 186 mm (4 x 7 1/4 in.)

Collection S. Baglioni (stamp on the reverse).

The present drawing was either executed or heavily retouched by Charles-Joseph Natoire. Perhaps inspired by Rubens’ habit of retouching drawings, and by the knowledge that Crozat and Mariette admired such sheets by Rubens, in like manner Natoire often took his own pen and brush to the drawings in his collection. (1)

During his directorship of the Académie de France in Rome (1751-1775), Natoire was a very active collector, acquiring large numbers of italian drawings. In a letter to Marigny on 17th January 1759 he wrote: ‘my sole pleasure lies in collecting some drawings by good artists and not of great value’ (2). A group of these retouched works, mostly Italian and acquired by the Comte d’Orsay (1748-1809) from Natoire’s brother, entered the Louvre before what remained of Natoire’s collection was sold at auction in Paris (3).

The vignette format of the present drawing suggests it is a preparatory sketch for a book illustration, which bears comparison in purpose with a preparatory drawing by Natoire for the illustration of the third book of De vita et rebus gestis Clementis undecimi pontificis maximi libri sex in the Morgan Library, New York (inv. 109951). Sylistically, it is similar to such sheets as the Char du Soleil in the Louvre (inv. 31417).

(1) Perrin Stein, ‘Copies and retouched drawings by Charles-Joseph Natoire Master’ in Master Drawings, vol. 38, no 2, Summer 2000, pp. 167-186
(2) Correspondance, vol. 11, p. 260: letter 5327, in Perrin Stein, Ibid., p. 185, footnote 30.
(3) P. Stein, Ibid., p. 175

Sold for £1,375

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