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Pen and brown ink
Support: Blue laid paper (not accessible)
Sheet: 20.5 x 23.4 cm (8 1/16 x 9 3/16 in.); Secondary Support: 22 x 28.2 cm (8 11/16 x 11 1/8 in.)
Gift of Robert Hays Gries 1939.670.b
The sheet of paper was a more vibrant, pure blue when the drawing was made; aging has rendered the color of the sheet closer to a green-gray.
In the last decades of his career, Paolo Veronese and his workshop produced a number of idyllic visions of the Holy Family in repose in the countryside during their flight into Egypt. This crowded sheet of loose, lively sketches was recently proposed to have inaugurated an intensive period of interest in this subject that began around 1570. The sheet shows two horizontal rows with eight versions of the seated Virgin holding the Christ Child, in some of the sketches accompanied by the infant John the Baptist or Joseph, and in one by a donkey. The sheet presents an unusual case of being preparatory not for paintings, but for finished chiaroscuro drawings, now in London, Berlin, and Cambridge, MA. While the individual sketches may appear at first glance a mass of tangled lines and confused forms, such pen and ink drawings demonstrate the Venetian artist's restless creative energy.
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