Tue, 7th Dec 2021 14:00

On Paper | Five Centuries of Master Drawings and Prints

  Lot 4


The death of Adonis
pen and ink and wash with white heightening on paper
280 x 585 mm

The present sheet is nearly identical, with exception of size and certain compositional details, to a drawing in the Louvre (INV 3490, recto) thought to be a copy after an original composition by Giulio Romano. Both the Louvre and our sheet share a high level of detail in the rendering of the trees and landscape, which is not the case in another drawing of the same composition, also in the Louvre (INV 3660). The original drawing depicting The Death of Adonis by Giulio is thought to be lost and only a sketch for this scene survives in Manchester (City Art Galleries; inv. 1981.81).

Together with three other scenes - The death of Procris, The Hunt for the Calydonian Boar, and Hylas and the Nymphs - the Death of Adonis is thought to have formed part of a series designed by Giulio in the 1530s. The function of the original series is, however, debated. Some scholars have argued that the scenes constituted part of the decoration realised for the Gonzaga residence in Marmirolo, while others have championed the view that the series was conceived exclusively to be engraved and printed. The first whole set of engravings of the series produced in the sixteenth century, possibly in 1543, is attributed to the Master ‘IQV’. According to the British Museum, this print, along with three other Fontainebleau School etchings, is after Giulio's designs for a tapestry series that was woven in Flanders in the 1530s. A tapestry with the Death of Procris was identified by Guy Delmarcel and a further weaving of the Death of Adonis has also appeared on the art market (see Delmarcel, 'Giulio Romano and Tapestry at the Court of Mantua', in La Corte di Mantova nell'età di Andrea Mantegna: 1450–1550, Rome 1997, p. 391, fig. 6).

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

Sold for £750

Includes Buyer's Premium


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