Signed 'TM/ MAP.', with initials 'V.D.', numbered '(23)/22' (recto)
Two types of black chalk, squared for transfer in black chalk, delineated border in black chalk, watermark 'D & C Blauw', within a shield
455 x 517 mm. (17 7/8 x 20 3/8 in.)
Tommaso Conca was firstly the pupil of his father Giovanni Conca (c.1690-1771), as well as his more famous uncle Sebastiano Conca. By 1770 Conca in Rome and working in the orbit of Anton Raphael Mengs, and possibly on the decoration of the Coffee-House in Villa Albani. Tommaso went on to become one of the better-known decorators of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.
In 1770 Tommaso was elected to the Accademia di San Lucca, and in 1775 he started working at the Villa Borghese, executing the mythological scenes. In 1786 he decorated the Sala delle Muse at the Museo Pio-Clementino in the Vatican Palace, and the dome of the cathedral of Citt di Castello. Conca also executed for Prospero Antonio Lignani an exact replica of his Egyptian room in the Casino Borghese. Conca's interest in the ancient Egyptians is also clear in the present drawing, where he has inscribed the drawing in hierglyphics. In 1793 Conca was elected principe of the Accademia di San Lucca.
The present drawing is closely comparable to drawings in the Anthony Morris Bequest, Philadelphia Museum of Art, of The Holy Family Crossing the Nile2, and four ceiling designs with putti in the Cooper-Hewitt Museum3. Interestingly all these drawings, as well as others by Conca, have a similar numbering4. The author described the technique of the first drawing, which could be equally applied to our drawing: 'this same tight manner largely dependant on careful cross-hatching'. In the head of a boatman in the present drawing Conca has drawn on the Carracci.
Conca executed 3 paintings of this subject5.
1.W.A. Churchill, Watermarks in Paper, Amsterdam, 1935, no. 194, p.74.
2.Philadelphia Museum of Art, A. Percy & U.W. Hiesinger, entry by Thomas William Sokolowski, A Scholar Collects: Selections from the Anthony Morris Clark Bequest, 2 October 1980-4 January 1981, no. 77.
3.New York, Cooper-Hewitt Museum, Crosscurrents: French and Italian Neoclassical Drawings and Prints from the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, Washington, 19 September-5 November, 1978-80, nos. 35-6, and nos 1938-88-7187 & -7186.
4.Philadelphia Museum of Art, op.cit., under no. 77.
5.G. Sestieri, Repertorio della pittura romana della fine del Seicento e del Settecento, Turin, 1994, pp.59-60.