Saint Cecilia

Object Details

Title:

Saint Cecilia

Artist/Maker(s):

Domenichino (Domenico Zampieri) (Italian, 1581 - 1641)

Culture:

Italian

Date:

about 1612 - 1615

Medium:

Black and white chalk on gray paper, pricked for transfer

Dimensions:

46.8 x 34.3 cm (18 7/16 x 13 1/2 in.)

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Tilting her head back, an ecstatic Saint Cecilia gazes heavenward in an appropriate martyr's pose. Virgin martyr and the patron saint of music, Cecilia is thought to have lived in the 100s or 200s A.D. After laborers discovered her miraculously preserved body beneath the altar of the Church of Santa Cecilia in 1599, her cult grew strong in Rome, and artists portrayed her often, because she represented the union of religion and music.

Domenichino probably made this drawing in preparation for his fresco decorations in the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome, on which he worked from 1612 to 1615. Scholars identify this female head as Saint Cecilia based on its similarity to the Cecilia in that fresco, where she wears the same expression of ecstasy as putti carry her up to heaven.

The pricking on this sheet shows that Domenichino's assistants probably transferred its outlines to another sheet, most likely the Musée du Louvre's much larger cartoon for the entire fresco. In the Louvre cartoon, Cecilia's head corresponds more closely to the fresco, so scholars assume that the Louvre cartoon was later. The four pieces of paper that comprise this sheet show that this fragment was also originally part of a larger cartoon.

Exhibitions
Italian Master Drawings (May 5 to July 19, 1992)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), May 5 to July 19, 1992, (Cat.)
Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum (May 24 to August 8, 1993)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (New York), May 24 to August 8, 1993, (Cat. 38)
Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum (October 29, 1993 to January 23, 1994)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), October 29, 1993 to January 23, 1994, (Cat. 16)
Master Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum (December 16, 1997 to February 22, 1998)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 16, 1997 to February 22, 1998, (Cat.)
Two Centuries of Drawings from Bologna (December 15, 1998 to February 28, 1999)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 15, 1998 to February 28, 1999, (Cat.)
Raphael and his Influence Across the Centuries (October 31, 2000 to January 7, 2001)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), October 31, 2000 to January 7, 2001, (Cat.)
Casting Characters: Portraits and Studies of Heads (November 4, 2003 to February 1, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), November 4, 2003 to February 1, 2004, (Cat.)