Tue, 7th Dec 2021 14:00

On Paper | Five Centuries of Master Drawings and Prints

  Lot 17


Candlestick for the high altar of St. Peter's in Rome, after Antonio Gentili da Faenza, after 1670-72
pen and ink on blue paper
520 x 130 mm

This long, quickly drawn sheet depicts one of the two famous candlesticks made by the celebrated goldsmith Antonio Gentile da Faenza for the cardinal Alessandro Farnese. The candlesticks were part of an altar service that also included a cross, made for the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome. The date of the commission is not recorded, but it is known to have been completed in 1581. Around 1670-1672 the Roman goldsmith Carlo Spagna was commissioned by Cardinal Francesco Barberini to lengthen and embellish the stems of the candlesticks and to make an additional two.

Our drawing shows the candlestick after these additions. A further drawing attributed to Carlo Spagna after Gentile da Faenza is in the Cooper Hewitt Collection (Acc. no. 1938-88-6982) and is thought to be the design for the base of the silver crucifix which formed part of the same altar service. It bears, however, a close correspondence to the base of the candlestick in our drawing. Carlo Spagna may have made this drawing to familiarise himself with the appearance and structure of Gentile’s design.

Three earlier drawings by an anonymous Italian artist (two of them at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London) also show the silver altar candlesticks with the stems in their original state. Such drawings may also have been made for sale to other goldsmiths or even to collectors since the design was said to have derived from Michelangelo. A later print of around 1778-1802 (see Victoria & Albert Museum, no. 26924:1) most probably representing the same object, states that it was designed by Raphael in competition with Michelangelo.

We wish to thank Marina Rovelli for her assistance in cataloguing this lot.

J. F. Hayward, 'Roman Drawings for Goldsmiths' Work in the Victoria and Albert Museum' in The Burlington Magazine, June 1977, vol. 119 no. 891, pp. 412, 414-421.

Sold for £275

Includes Buyer's Premium


Do you have an item similar to the item above? If so please click the link below to submit a free online valuation request through our website.

Online Valuation Form


Drag and drop .jpg images here to upload, or click here to select images.