Ercole Setti
Modena 1530-1617 Modena
La Porcellana: A Market scene of porcelain vendors

PROVENANCE: Private collection, Turin.

London, anon. sale, Christies, 19 April 1994, lot 26.

Pierre de Charmant (Budapest 1926-).

Inscribed La Porcellana and numbered 34

Black chalk, pen and brown ink

282 x 421 mm. (11 1/8 x 16 5/8 in.)

This drawing formed part of an album of 125 drawings. The majority of these drawings illustrate scenes of popular life and of the market place, with figures buying, selling or engaged in other activities. The drawings have been widely dispersed, however some of these have been published in an article on the album in 19681, and one of these sheets from the album is in the Metropolitan Museum2. Each of the drawings are titled, this is necessary since the activity is not sufficiently clear from the drawing itself. Other drawings are inscribed cipolle (onions); funghi (mushrooms), cavadenti (dentists), astrologi (astrologers), our drawing is inscribed la porcellana, which would seem to indicate that this group of figures are porcelain vendors. The title of these drawings seem to have been written in one of the dialects of the Veneto. Zava Boccazzi gives a possible date for these drawings circa 1558-89, and says about this group It is therefore clear that his choice of subject constitutes a very interesting precedent for a genre more widely favoured in the seventeenth century which up to now, was considered to have its origin in the drawing of Mestieri per via by Annibale and Agostino Carracciwithout crediting him with this achievement, it will suffice to register as his due the singularity of manner which he renders these genre scenes, for it is this that constitutes the real creative originality of Setti as a draughtsman3.

Three paintings by Setti are known, one of The Marriage Feast at Cana, 1589, on the entrance wall of S. Pietro in Modena, a St. Ursula with the Virgin, 1568, in the same church, and a Coronation of the Virgin, 1575, in the reserve collection of Galleria Estense. The biographical details of Setti are scarce, other than he was known to have worked mainly in Modena.

1. F. Zava Boccazzi, An unpublished Album of drawings by Ercole Setti Master Drawings, VI, 1968, 4, pp.356-363, pls.1-9.

2. J. Bean, 15th and 16th Century Italian Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1982, no.238.

3. F. Zava Boccazzi, op.cit, p.359.