Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) (Frits Lugt 2364) and (Lugt 3016a, inscribed lot 557); his sale, London, H. Phillips, 10 March 1798, part of lot 557.
John Norton, February 1853 (according to an inscription on the verso of the mount).
Anon sale, Christie's London, 4 July 1978, lot 8, as attributed to Aurelio Lomi.
Private Collection, U.S.A. till 2003.
Crispian Riley-Smith, Master Drawings 1550-1900, 27 June-20 July 2001, cat. no 2.
Black chalk, pen and brown ink, brown wash
261 x 192 mm. (10 x 7 in.)
The identity of the female martyr is not known. The anchor – which is seen in the underdrawing between her and the altar on the right, but which was abandoned in the final elaboration in pen and wash – was perhaps intended as a symbol of Hope. Two female saints who have an anchor as their attribute – St Rosa of Lima and St Philomena – were canonized in the 17th and 19th centuries respectively, well after this drawing would have been made, towards the end of the 16th century.
The attribution to the Bolognese painter Bartolomeo Cesi is advanced because of the marked compositional resemblance to Cesis altarpiece of St Anna and the Immaculate Conception in Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna and the similarity to several of his pen-and-wash drawings. Especially close is the study for the vault of the choir of the Certosa di Maggiano at Royal Library, Windsor Castle. Both sheets feature the same summary treatment of the heads and hands of putti and angels in a heavenly glory and the same use of an emphatic pen line to define the contours. Convincing parallels with the martyrs attenuated fingers and the strong lights and darks of her voluminous drapery may be found in Cesis many red chalk studies from the live model. A drawing which comes close stylistically is in a private collection in Belgium1.
The present drawing is stamped with the mark of Reynolds on the verso. It is interesting to note, according to Frits Lugt, that the executors of Reynolds estate stamped the more valuable drawings on the recto, like no. 1, and those valued under 2s 6d, which numbered 749 lots, were stamped on the verso. The present drawing was sold on the fifth day of Sir Joshua Reynolds auction, '9 various' drawings were included in this lot.
1.Brussels, Muse Communal dIxelles, de Giorgione Tiepolo, 1993, cat.no.47, pp.114-115.