Papal Authority

Object Details


Papal Authority


Carlo Saraceni (Italian, about 1579 - 1620)






Black chalk, heightened with white chalk on blue-green paper


32.9 × 24.9 cm (12 15/16 × 9 13/16 in.)

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Perched on a high ledge, the allegorical figure of papal authority holds up the keys to the church in one hand while clutching a notebook and quill pen in the other. Seen from below, her open-necked blouse exposes her broad, fleshy neck and powerful hands, while her skirt is drawn back enough to show her toes in a sandal. In the upper right, Carlo Saraceni experimented with a different arrangement for the folds of her dress.

Saraceni produced this study for an allegorical figure in a fresco in a Roman palazzo. In the fresco she wears a more elaborate costume than the one in the drawing, suggesting that he based the drawing on a studio model. Artists in the Renaissance commonly used live models as they tested out various positions in preparatory drawings. Later, they added decorative details and changed the clothing. Saraceni chose the drapery arrangement of the upper right for the final fresco.

Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum (May 24 to August 8, 1993) (101)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), May 24 to August 8, 1993
Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum (October 29, 1993 to January 23, 1994) (42)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), October 29, 1993 to January 23, 1994
Visions of Grandeur: Drawing in the Baroque Age (June 1 to September 12, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), June 1 to September 12, 2004