Crispian Riley-Smith Fine Arts Ltd

A Philosopher writing on a Stone, possibly Diodorus Cronus

Giovanni Antonio Burrini (Bologna 1656-Bologna 1727)

Pen and brown ink
252 x 200 mm (10 x 7 7/8 in.)

Provenance :
Unidentified collectors number recto and verso n 1399; Harold Day (his mark on the mount recto, not in Lugt).

Giovanni Antonio Burrini
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After an initial apprenticeship with Domenico Maria Canuti (1626-1684) Giovanni Antonio Burrini joined the workshop of Lorenzo Pasinelli. There he quickly achieved a pictorial independence that demonstrated his distance from the formal control of his master, and from the return to Guido Reni, which was promoted by his fellow student Gian Gioseffe Dal Sole. Burrini was viewed with suspicion by Giampietro Zanotti, the official historian of the Accademia Clementina, because of his unorthodox tendencies of his paintings. He was nonetheless sought after by a number of prestigious patrons. The artists who were his colleagues appreciated Burrini. He was closely associated with the young Giuseppe Maria Crespi, with whom he shared a studio and perhaps also commissions for more than two years beginning in 1686. Burrinis earliest work is Joseph Interpreting Dreams in Warsaw, which recalls the late style of Guercino. His other works include The Martyrdom of Saint Victoria, which inaugurated his neo-Venetian phase.1 After a brief stay in Novellara in 1686 he delivered his Martyrdom of Saint Euphemia to the church of the same name in Ravenna. In the same year he took part in the work on the Palazzo Ruini. Later works included frescoes in the cupola and pendentives of the church of San Giovanni Battista dei Celestini in Bologna. In the 1680s are frescoes in the Palazzo Comunale and Palazzo Pini Alamandini. In the 1690s he worked on frescoes in the cupola of San Gaetano in San Bartolomeo, in Bologna. Burrini was one of the founders of the Accademia Clementina in 1709, and was director from 1723-4.

The attribution of our drawing, which had traditionally been called Guercino, was first suggested independently by John Spike and Nol Annesley, and has been agreed by Jonathan Bober.2 The strong angular features of the present drawing can be compared to a drawing recently on the market Group of figures at a Table reading Books in pen and brown ink, and to another by Burrini, dated 1684, of a Composer seated at the Harpsichord also in pen and ink and measuring 270 x 170 mm.3 Burrinis pen and ink drawings have some affinities with Guercino, which makes it not surprising that this was traditionally attributed to Burrinis Bolognese contemporary.

The subject of our drawing is fascinating and has been suggested by the Warburg Institute. Diodorus Cronus was a Greek philosopher and dialectician.

1.Exhibition catalogue, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 19 January 1986 and elsewhere, The Age of Correggio and the Carracci, Emilian Painting of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, pp.385-391.
2.Verbal communication from John Spike and Nol Annesley, written communication from Jonathan Bober, 9 July 2012.
3.Christies New York, 24 January 2006, lot 34 and Christies London 30 March 1971, lot 106.

This is catalogue Number 6, in the on-line e-catalogue of 'Drawings from the collection of Harold Day (1924-2010)', see the home page for the e-catalogue.