The J. Paul Getty Museum

An Angel Holding a Book (recto); Three Studies of a Falling Male Figure (verso)

Object Details

Title:

An Angel Holding a Book (recto); Three Studies of a Falling Male Figure (verso)

Artist/Maker:
Culture:

Italian

Place:

Italy (Place Created)

Date:

about 1583–1586

Medium:

Red and black chalk on blue paper

Object Number:

2001.60

Dimensions:

36.5 × 26 cm (14 3/8 × 10 1/4 in.)

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Object Description

Cristoforo Roncalli's comprehensive understanding of the human form is evident in this sensuous drawing of an angel, whose idealized grace and beauty convey his divine status even more powerfully than his wings do. Striding across a cloud and holding an open book, the figure looks upward as if receiving a sacred message. Swirling strokes defining his tousled hair contrast with the parallel lines used to shade the wings. The figure's expressive movement and gesture, captured in a characteristic Mannerist contrapposto pose, effectively convey an unearthly power.

Though the drawing is not associated with any known painting, scholars believe it was made as a preparatory study for a larger project. Three studies of a male nude falling on his back, drawn on the verso of the sheet, provide a clue about this possible undertaking. The verso studies show how Roncalli worked out his composition for The Conversion of St. Paul, a fresco he executed at a chapel in Rome in 1586. It is possible that the angel was drawn for the same chapel; however, large sections of the painting are now missing due to damage and deterioration. Both the angel and the studies of the falling figure show Roncalli's extraordinary ability to capture the unrestrained rhythm and energy of the body.

Provenance
Provenance
-

Unknown (Paris) [sold, Tajan, Paris, March 27, 2001, lot 16, to Katrin Bellinger Kunsthandel, Munich.]

-

Katrin Bellinger Kunsthandel, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
Michelangelo to Vasari: Drawing the Figure in Renaissance Florence (July 15 to October 19, 2003) (recto)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), July 15 to October 19, 2003
Ten Years of Drawings: What, How, and Why (January 29 to May 4, 2008) (recto)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), January 29 to May 4, 2008
Disegno: Drawing in Europe 1520-1600 (November 13, 2012 to February 3, 2013) (recto)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), November 13, 2012 to February 3, 2013
Drawing: The Art of Change (October 4, 2016 to January 1, 2017) (recto)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), October 4, 2016 to January 1, 2017
Bibliography
Bibliography

Tajan, Paris. Dessins Anciens. March 27, 2001, pp. 6-7, lot 16, ill.