Ventura Salimbeni
Saint Hyacinth raising a Child from the Dead

PROVENANCE: Private collection, England.

Black chalk, pen and brown ink and brown wash, brown wash margins

257 x 398 mm (10 1/8 x 15 5/8 in.)



The Merchants Hall, Edinburgh, August 23 till September 13 1969, Edinburgh Festival, Italian 16th Century Italian Drawings from British Private collections, number 74, plate 74.

The present drawing is an important study for the fresco of the same subject in Santa Spirito, Siena, executed between 1600-3. 1

Finished compositional drawings for existing frescoes are very rare to come on the market. Our drawing can be compared to another important drawing for a fresco in Assisi, The Death of Saint Claire with Pope Innocent IV blessing her sold from the collection of The Earls of Leicetser in 1991. 2

The changes between our drawing and the fresco are not dramatic, which shows that by the time Salimbeni drew this drawing he already had a clear idea of the composition. However the changes between the drawing and the fresco are worth pointing out. There are three figures in the group on the left hand side in both the drawing and the fresco, however in the gestures are quite different. In the drawing there is a small figure group above the head of Christ, in an archway, in the painting this has been moved, and in the painting there is child playing with a dog on the steps, whilst this is not in the drawing.

Salimbeni was born in Siena and he studied painting, together with his half-brother Francesco Vanni, under their father Arcangelo Salimbeni in his native Siena. Salimbeni moved to Rome in 1588 to work, together with others, on the fresco painting of the Vatican Library under Pope Sixtus V. During 1590-1, he got a commission by Cardinal Bonifazio Bevilacqua Aldobrandini for paintings in the Roman Jesuit Church of the Ges and the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. Salimbeni returned to Siena in 1595. He completed painting cycles (15951602) for Sienese churches such as the oratory in the Santa Trinit. Salimbeni started around 1600 painting the scenes from the Life of St. Hyacinth for the Sienese church of Santo Spirito. These paintings show the perspective of the style of Beccafumi in the backdrop of buildings and landscape. In Siena, Salimbeni completed several painting cycles for the church of Santo Spirito. He continued to create paintings for churches throughout Italy, including Florence. At the Basilica della Santissima Annunziata di Firenze, he frescoed lunettes illustrating events in the history of the Servite Order. In the Duomo di San Salvatore, he executed a magnificent John the Baptist. At about the same time, around 1600, he got an assignment in Assisi for a fresco of the Resurrection of Christ and the Dying Saint Clare is visited by the Pope in the vault of chapel of San Massimo in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli. Salimbeni got in 1603 the commission to paint frescoes with scenes from the church's patron saints in the church of Quirico and Giulitta, one of the oldest churches in Siena. As in the church of Santa Trinit, he worked here alongside with the painter Alessandro Casolari.

At the same time he was painting the Vision of Gregory the Great and the Punishment of David in the Basilica of San Pietro in Perugia. The Papal legate, Cardinal Bonifazio Bevilacqua, who had commissioned these paintings, was so pleased that he invested Ventura Salimbeni with the Order of the Golden Spur, a very selective papal order. He was even authorized from now on to name himself Cavalieri Bevilacqua. He painted the canvas of the Ascension of the Virgin for San Frediano in Pisa. His last work of art was the oil painting the Marriage of the Virgin for the Seminario diocesano in Foligno in 1613.

1.P.A. Riedl, Zum Oeuvre des Ventura Salimbeni, Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, November 1960, p. 231, figure 126.

2.Old Master Drawings from Holkam, Christies London, 2 July 1991, lot 14.