Nov 20, 2012

Venus and Cupid in a Chariot

Venus and Cupid in a Chariot



(Italian, 1591–1666)

Pen and brown ink and brush and brown wash over red chalk

Support: Cream(3) laid paper

Sheet: 25.5 x 39.4 cm (10 1/16 x 15 1/2 in.)

Dudley P. Allen Fund 1925.1188


Did you know?

Two miniscule female forms appear at the bottom edge of the sheet and may pertain to an earlier idea for the composition or to one of many other compositions Guercino conceived for the commission.


Giovanni Francesco Barbiere, called Guercino, was a prolific draftsman who used drawing not only to prepare for his many painting commissions but also to record and explore his ideas for future use. This preparatory drawing, made early in his career, reflects Guercino's nonlinear preparatory process and his simultaneous work on different compositions. It relates in format to the painted decoration at the Casa Pannini in his native town of Cento, but it features Venus instead of Diana as in the finished fresco. Guercino's combination of rapid and sure pen lines with ink wash, applied with expert variegation to create deep shadows and bright highlights, is a paradigm of the artist's exuberant high Baroque style.

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