Jacopo Negretti, called Palma il Giovane
Venice circa 1548-Venice 1628
The Descent of the Holy Spirit

PROVENANCE: With Lorna Lowe, July 1985; Professor Raymond E. Pahl, FBA (1935-2011).

Inscribed Palma in pen and brown ink (lower margin), pen and brown ink over red chalk, watermark an encircled cross bow [see image], within an inscribed arch in red chalk

295 x 163 mm. (11 5/8 x 6 1/2 in.)


Jacopo Palma, the great-nephew of Palma Vecchio, was born in 1548 and not in 1544 as previously thought. According to Carlo Ridolfi Palma was set to drawing by his father Antonio Palma (circa 1515-before 1585). As a young man Palma went to work for the Duke of Urbino but returned to Venice circa 1570, when he found a position in the studio of the elderly Titian. By 1578 his reputation was such that he was invited to share, along with Tintoretto and Veronese, the painting of the three major fields of the ceiling of the burned Sala del Maggior Consiglio in the Palazzo Ducale. According to Roger Rearick from Titian he learned how to use black and white chalk; from Tintoretto a ductile and expressive black chalk line and from Veronese the lightening-fast use of pen and tensile line. 1

Rinaldi mentions three paintings of the same subject matter.2All the compositions are arched, as in our drawing, however the arrangements of the figures is quite different. The stylistic handling of the drawing is typical of Palma Giovane and can be compared to a number of his drawings, where he uses both red chalk underdrawing and brown pen and ink. 3

The handling of a drawing formerly in the Katalan Collection is also close stylistically to our drawing. 4

The attribution has been confirmed by David McTavish from a photograph.5

1.Exhibition catalogue, The Katalan Collection of Italian Drawings, 14 April 1995-16 June 1996, under entry 19, p.50.

2.Stefania Mason Rinaldi, Palma il Giovane, LOpera completa, Milan, 1984, p.73, number 4, figure 794, page 470; and p.97, numbers 182 and 183, figures 402 and 403, page 350.

3.Stefania Mason Rinaldi, op.cit, page 154, D25, figure 137, page 243, and page 160, D129, figure 191, page 262.

4.The Katalan Collection, loc.cit.

5.Written communication, 13 May 2012.