The Idolatry of Solomon

The Idolatry of Solomon

1622-23

Pietro da Cortona

(Italian, 1596-1669)

Pen and brown ink, point of brush and black ink, brush and brown wash, and white and blue gouache, framing lines in brown ink

Support: Brown laid paper, laid down on cream(3) laid paper

Sheet: 24.8 x 43.3 cm (9 3/4 x 17 1/16 in.); Secondary Support: 25.5 x 44.1 cm (10 1/16 x 17 3/8 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1987.142

Location

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Pietro da Cortona completed this drawing and the six frescoes related to it for a prominent patron and palazzo in Rome when he was just 27 years old.

Description

Pietro da Cortona was one of the most successful and active fresco painters in Rome in the mid-1600s. This drawing is a preparatory sheet—highly worked-up with many different mediums—for one of the artist's six frescoes portraying the story of Solomon commissioned by the Roman nobleman Asdrubale Mattei (1556-1638) for the gallery of his Palazzo Mattei di Giove. Reflecting the artist's as well as his patron's interest in classical antiquity, Cortona combined a classical relief-like composition with specific references to Roman objects and architectural elements in the composition. The subject represents a foolish episode from Solomon's life, when he was lured into the worship of idols by the "foreign" women with whom he kept company.

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