Black chalk, watermark C.F, in a scrolled cartouche
432 x 330 mm. (17 x 13 in.)
Torresani was an Italian painter and active in Brescia and Venice. He died aged 33 from a stroke. He was trained by Antonio Aureggio in Brescia and moved to Venice, and is known to have worked for Zaccharia Sagredo and Pietro Guarienti.
The identify and attribution of this striking 18th century portrait is by no means secure, however an attribution to the little known Venetian 18th century artist Andrea Torresani has been suggested by Alexandra Chaldecott in comparison to a number of drawings by the artist in the Biblioteca Reale in Turin, Italy. In all the drawings Torresani uses black chalk, as in our drawing, and all the drawings are half-length portraits and adopt a similar pose. Moreover the hatching in all the drawings are comparable [Figure 1]1. Professor George Knox has confirmed that he believes this could to be a portrait of the Venetian 18th century artist Giovanni Battista Piazzetta, though he does not believe the draughtsman is Venetian, more likely Swiss. There are a number of known images of Piazzetta, and our drawing comes closest to the print by Giovanni Cattini, dated 1743 [Figure 2]. If our drawing is indeed a portrait of the artist, it would post date this work, possibly late 1740s or early 1750s. Catherine Whistler does not think the portrait is of Piazzetta3. The condition of the paper and drawing is excellent.
1.Written communication 29 November 2007. See drawings in the Biblioteca Reale, Turin, museum numbers AC 1045, AC 1171 and AC 913.
2.Written communication, 23 July 2007. G. Knox, Piazzetta: a tercentenary exhibition of drawings, prints, and books, Cambridge, 1983, exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, November 1983-February 1984, figure 16, page 30 and catalogue numbers 24, 25, 26, 27, 96, 97, 107.
3.Written communication 21 December 2007.