Black chalk heightened with white chalk, squared with black chalk
Support: 4 sheets (joined) of light gray laid paper, laid down on cream(3) laid paper, perimeter mounted to a tertiary support of laid paper
Sheet: 59.2 x 43.7 cm (23 5/16 x 17 3/16 in.); Secondary Support: 61.2 x 45.7 cm (24 1/8 x 18 in.); Tertiary Support: 61.2 x 45.7 cm (24 1/8 x 18 in.)
Dudley P. Allen Fund 1964.445
Despite having carefully prepared the composition for his fresco of Temperance with this and other drawings, Domenichino left Rome before completing the painting. It was later finished by one of his pupils.
The gridded pattern superimposed over the figures in this scene indicates that this drawing was used a preparatory study for one of Domenichino’s frescoes depicting the four cardinal virtues inside the dome of the Church of San Carlo ai Catinari in Rome. This technique—called squaring—was a common method used in seventeenth-century Italy to transfer a design from one surface to another. Domenichino prepared the design on three separate sheets of paper, all with irregular edges cut and pasted onto a larger sheet. At the top, the allegorical figure of Temperance, one of four cardinal virtues, reclines gracefully on a cloud. She holds a palm branch in her left hand and extends her right out toward a hovering putto in the upper left corner. The changes made to Temperance’s right hand and the presence of two camel heads (only one appears in the finished fresco) reveal the artist’s process for working out the poses and placements of the figures in his composition.
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