The J. Paul Getty Museum

Project for a Wall Decoration

Object Details


Project for a Wall Decoration




about 1522


Pen and brown ink, brush with brown wash over underdrawing in black chalk

Object Number:



40.9 × 26.8 cm (16 1/8 × 10 9/16 in.)

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Object Description

Perino del Vaga produced this delicate ink and wash design as a study for frescoes in a chapel within the Vatican. The Adoration of the Magi appears on both sides of the arched, recessed window at the top. The three kings gather to admire the Christ Child standing in his mother's lap on the right. In the center of the lower register is the Crucifixion scene, surrounded by scenes from the Passion of Christ, the theme of the chapel. The coats of arms of various popes fill the window frame at the top.

In 1520 this chapel was assigned to the Vatican's Swiss Guards, and shortly afterwards Perino was commissioned to decorate it. Scholars believe that this drawing was made around 1522 because it contains the coat of arms of Pope Adrian VI, who only led the Church for a year, from 1522 and 1523. Perino began work on the frescoes in 1522 but he never completed them because of a serious plague outbreak in 1523. The frescoes were later finished by Polidoro da Caravaggio.

An Exhibition of Old Master Drawings and European Works of Art (May 5 to 17, 1994)
  • Newhouse Galleries (New York), May 4 to May 17, 1994
Figural Compositional Drawings from the 16th to the 19th Century (August 31 to December 8, 1996)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), August 31 to December 8, 1996
Roma e lo stile classico di Raffaello 1515-1527 (March 21 to September 5, 1999)
  • Centro Internazionale d'Arte e di Cultura di Palazzo Te (Mantua), March 21 to May 30, 1999
  • Albertina (Vienna), June 23 to September 5, 1999
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
Perino del Vaga: Between Raphael and Michelangelo (March 17 to June 10, 2001)
  • Centro Internazionale d'Arte e di Cultura di Palazzo Te (Mantua), March 17 to June 10, 2001
The Art of Papal Rome (May 29 to September 6, 2009)
  • National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), May 29 to September 6, 2009