Lot 8 (Old Master Paintings and Drawings, 27th August 2020)
JEAN-ROBERT ANGO (ACTIVE IN ROME BETWEEN 1710 - 1773)
Study after the sculpture of a Saint surmounting the colonnade before St Peter’s
202 x 104 mm (8 x 4 in.)
The present work is typical of Jean-Robert Ango' s hand: his use of red chalk, his idiosyncratic style including the use of reinforced contours and the subject matter; which seems to relate to the sheets in the four albums in the Cooper-Hewitt collection, New York (Fig.1).
No original compositions by Ango are known and his drawings all seem to have been copies after Roman paintings and sculptures. Unlike other French artists of this period, Ango's drawings are not studies for paintings. Instead, he may have depended on the sale of such drawings as a source of income. Charles-Joseph Natoire, director of the French Academy in Rome from 1751 to 1777, owned around a hundred of his sketches.
The albums in New York, as well as the present work, show Ango’s interest in Berniniesque statuary. He drew a large number of figures of the Saints that surmount the encircling and straight arms of the colonnade before St Peter’s, designed by Bernini and executed by various sculptors. Drawing these figures presented problems as they were perched very high above ground level, and there is only a narrow precarious edge below each base. Therefore, the sculptures are presented da sotto in su but not excessively foreshortened, and they are drawn almost as if from just their bases. (1)
The unique value of this drawing is that it records the state of paintings and sculpture in Rome in the 1760s. Ango did not draw many of the well known motifs his contempories copied which makes identification difficult. However, the drawings that can be identified are particularly valuable as they document the corresponding object's condition, appearance, and location in the 1760s.
(1) see Phyllis Dearborn Massar, 'Drawings by Jean-Robert Ango after Paintings and Sculpture in Rome', in Master Drawings, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Spring, 1999), pp. 35-46