Raffaellino Motta, called Raffaellino da Reggio
Codemondo circa 1550- Rome 1578
The Baptism of Christ

PROVENANCE: With The Folio Society, London (as German School, 16th Century).

Private collection, U.S.A.

Black chalk, pen and brown ink and wash, squared for transfer in black chalk

265 x 211 mm. (10 3/8 x 8 3/8in.)


According to Bonifazio Fantini, in his early biography on Raffaellino, he mentions that Raffaellino's first master was the medallist Alfonso Ruspagiari. He then went to Novellara as a pupil of Lelio Orsi, whom he assisted in painting house faades when he was aged about 161. Raffaellino then was employed by Cesare Gonzaga in Guastalla where he met the architect Francesco da Volterra, later husband of the engraver Diana Scultori. Baglione stated that Raffaellino came to Rome in the pontificate of Gregory XIII (1572-85), though he may have been in Rome as early as 1565-6. He is said to have variously assisted Federico Zuccarro and later Lorenzo Sabbatini.

The attribution to Raffaellino has been confirmed by Dr John Marciari on the basis of a photograph, and he says2:

Not only the faces, but the wash, and even details like the trees in the distance all feel just right. According to the early biography by Fantini, Raffaellino painted a Baptism with a Chorus of Angels in the Baptismal chapel at SS. Apostoli in Rome, a chapel destroyed in the 18th century rebuilding of the church. As this seems to fit your drawing, and as there is no other mention of a Baptism in any of the Raffaellino sources, I'd say that you have your probable match. To my knowledge, yours is the first drawing that can be connected to the project. Given the attenuated figures, the project was probably pretty early in Raffaellino's career, close to 1570.

For further details on Raffaellinos training and early Roman career see John Marciari, 'Raffaellino da Reggio in the Vatican,' Burlington Magazine, 148, 2006, pages 187-91.

1.Bonifazio Fantini, Breve trattato della vita di Raffaele Mota, Reggiano pittore famoso, Reggio, 1616 and 1657, another ed. (Giuseppe Adorni) Parma, 1850, pp.21, 28.

2.Written communication 6 May 2010.