Antonio Consetti (Modena 1686 – 1766 Modena)
A Study of a Reclining Figure (recto); The Penitent Magdalen Praying Before a Vision of the Cross (verso)
Red and white chalk, on light brown paper, fragmentary watermark circles, 226 x 199 mm (9 x 7.8 inch)
Lamberto Vitali (1896–1992)
Antonio Consetti was born in Modena, the son of the painter Jacopo Consetti (1651–1726) and his wife Margarita Cozzi. He studied in Bologna, firstly with Giovan Gioseffo dal Sole (1654–1719) and then with Donato Creti (1671–1749).1 Upon his return to Modena, he opened in his home an ‘Accademia di Nudo’ (Academy of the Nude) in 1722, patronised by Duke Rinaldo d’Este, where students could draw after the nude upon payment of a fee.2 Consetti executed many commissions for Modenese churches and monasteries, including the Presentation of the Virgin in the Chapel of the College of San Carlo, in the church of San Domenico four scenes from the life of its patron saint in grisaille, and in the San Giorgio an altarpiece with the Dream of Joseph, executed in 1751. Consetti was also curator of the Ducal collections at Modena.
The life of the artist was first discussed by R. Tiraboschi in his Notizie de' Pittori e scultori ... negli Stati del ... duca di Modena, Modena 1786, pp. 180-83, who records other paintings by Consetti in Venice, Bologna, Pistoia, Genoa, Forli, Trento and Vienna.
As a draftman Consetti provided drawings to the engraver Francesco Maria Francia for the frontispiece of the first folume of the Antichità estensi by Lodovicio Antonio Muratori, publsihed in 1717, and also drew a portrait of Rinaldo d’Este in 1725. Around the same period he also sent ‘disegni di ritratti’ and copies after Correggio to Nicolas Vleughels, director of the French Academy in Rome.
Drawings by Consetti very rarely appear on the market. This may be because his studio holdings appear to have survived largely intact: a large group of his drawings is preserved in the Biblioteca Poletti in Modena. The recto of our drawing, with its focus on drapery rather than the figure, can for instance be compared to Antonio’s Moses (see fig.),4 while the verso is close to his Study for a Charity (see last fig.).5
Our drawing was previously owned by the scholar and collector Lamberto Vitali, whose collection included the ‘300 Dollar Leonardo’, which the collector bought in a sale in Milan in 1982, and which is now in the Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, along with other drawings from his collection.6
1. For the artist, see Maria Angela Novelli in the Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, vol. 28, Rome 1983, pp. 47-48 and Susanne Christine Martin, ‘Consetti, Antonio’, in: Saur, Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon … , Munich/Leipzig 1992, vol. XX, p. 568.
2. A. Boschloo (ed.), Academies of Art: between Renaissance and Romanticism, The Hague 1989, pp. 100-01.
3. Enrichetta Cecchi Gattolin, I Disegni dei Consetti nelle Collezioni della Biblioteca Civica di Storia dell’Arte Luigi Poletti, Modena 1982.
4. Black and white chalk, 401 x 259 mm; inv. no. 4363; Gattolin, op. cit., p. 78, no. 328, repr.
5. Black and white chalk, 203 x 323 mm; inv. no. 4166; Gattolin, op. cit., p. 60, no. 151, repr.
6. Carmen Bambach (ed.), Leonardo Da Vinci Master Draftsman, exh. cat. New York (Metropolitan Museum) 2003, pp. 91-92