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Lodovico Cardi, il Cigoli (1559-1613)

Two servants 1591

Brush in ink and white on grey-blue prepared paper | 40.3 x 24.6 cm (sheet of paper) | RCIN 905190

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  • A drawing of two standing men, turned to the right, holding trays. The drawing is an early study for the altarpiece of The Emperor Heraclitus carrying the True Cross into Jerusalem, painted for the silk-weavers’ guild for their chapel in the church of San Marco, Florence. and still in situ. In the painting the page holds the emperor's crown in his arms; the object held on a platter by the servant here seems to be the Byzantine emperor’s peaked hat (as popularised by Pisanello’s medal of John Palaeologus).

    Cigoli executed two paintings of the Emperor Heraclitus carrying the Cross into Jerusalem, each dated 1594, one for the Confraternità della Croce, the confraternity of the silk-weavers’ guild, for their altar in San Marco in Florence and still in situ, the other for the convent of Santa Croce in Empoli and destroyed in the Second World War. The former was commissioned from Cigoli on 7 December 1591, the artist having been chosen from a list of six after a painting by Matteo Veri had been rejected by the confraternity. The contract with Cigoli stated that the painting should follow a drawing that he had already provided (thus dating his work on the design to 1591), and that he was to complete the work within eight months. A revised agreement was drawn up in April 1593, and the painting was presumably supplied the following year. The two compositions are broadly on the same lines, and it is likely that the Empoli version was derived from Cigoli’s studies towards the San Marco painting.

    Figures in a similar attitude to those here appear on the left of a compositional study in the Uffizi (8864-F; M.L. Chappell, Disegni di Ludovico Cigoli, Uffizi 1992, no. 25). A near-identical drawing in the Louvre has been claimed as an autograph repetition - or even the original of which the present sheet is a replica - but is plainly a copy of the present sheet (inv. 911; F. Viatte, Dessins Toscans, 1988, no. 140). Popham (in P&W) had related the study to Cigoli's Christ in the House of Simon (Galleria Doria, Rome), of 1596, in which two similar servants appear on the right of the composition.

    Inscribed in pencil: Lodco detto il Cigoli

    Provenance

    Royal Collection by c.1810 (among four volumes of 'Diversi Maestri Antichi' summarily listed on Inventory A, p. 16.)

  • Medium and techniques

    Brush in ink and white on grey-blue prepared paper

    Measurements

    40.3 x 24.6 cm (sheet of paper)