Cesare Rossetti
Rome circa 1565-after 1623
A Sibyl and Saint Gregory

PROVENANCE: Private collection, U.S.A.

Red chalk and wash

330 x 218 mm. (13 x 8 5/8 in.)


Rossetti was a painter and draughtsman who was born in Rome, circa 1565, and this probable date is inferred from Baglione who says he died in old age under Urban VIII (1623-44) and Baglione implies his earliest work was for Sixtus V (1585-90). However Baglione says that Rossetti worked at Caprarola sotto la guida di Bartolommeo, pittore del Cardinale (Farnese). If Bartolommeo can be identified with Bartholomeus Spranger (1546-1611) who was at Caprarola only in 1570 this would imply a birth-date of at least 10 years earlier. Rossetti was a member of the Accademia di S. Luca by October 1593, and of Virtuosi al Pantheon by 1606. The following works by Rossetti are mentioned by Baglione and are still existing: Santa Prassede in Rome, in the Olgiati chapel where he worked under the guidance of Cavaliere dArpino, and in the nave where Rossetti worked on yellow monochrome schemes, dateable from 1594-1600. He also worked in Santa Eusebio, S. Maria Traspontina, in the convenant of S. Maria in Aracoeli, and he participated in the decoration of the cupola in St .Peters and in the Vatican.

Our drawing based on the vaulted fresco of the Olgiati Chapel in Sta Prassede, Rome, by Cesari dArpino [see Figure 1], on which Rossetti assisted Giuseppe Cesari. The attribution was made by Professor Rttgen, written communication, who says, But your drawing is by Cesare Rossetti, one of the pupils of Cesari. He has made small compartments in the attica zone of the chapel. Rttgen compares our drawing to another drawing in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge [see Figure 2], my attributions are based on a drawing also attributed to Cesari, representing the judgment of Salomo. That drawing is only from the circle of Cesari and because it is for a house faade I dont doubt that it must be the preparatory drawing for the faade with the Judgment of Salomo by Rossetti mentioned cited by Baglione. 1

Other drawings by Rossetti that have been on the market have been with Chaucer Fine Arts, Artists by Artists, Spring, 2003, no.3 of Portrait of an Artist and a group of 10 drawings were with Colnaghi in June/ July 1983, illustrating scenes from the Trojan War, and there was another from this series that sold at Phillips London, 11 December 1991, lot 179.

The attribution of our drawing has also been accepted by Marco Simone Bolzoni on the basis of a photograph.2

1.Written communication to previous owner, and confirmed 7 October 2013. The drawing in the Fitzwilliam Museum is accession number 2916, The Emperor Augustus and the Sibyl: design for a Wall decoration, drawn in pen and ink and measures 230 x 201 mm.

2.Written communication 4 June 2014, and see his recent article, Storia dellarte, No. 136, 2013, M. Simone Bolzoni, Cesare Rossetti, amico del Cavalier dArpino: un nuovo dipinto e alcune osservioni sullopera grafica, pp46-64.