Pietro Antonio de’ Pietri (Premia 1663 – 1716 Rome)
Head of an Old Man Looking Down to the Right (recto); Study of a lower leg and foot and a separate study of drapery (verso)
Black, red and white chalk, black chalk framing lines (recto); black chalk (verso), partial watermark oval, 215 x 188 mm (8.5 x 7.4 inch)
Bears old attribution in black chalk, lower centre Guido Reni and numbering in black chalk 32; early inscription in brown ink di Pietro de Pietra (verso)
- Edward Bouverie (1767-1858), Delapré Abbey, near Northampton (Lugt 324)
- His sale, London, Christie’s, 20 July 1859, lot 135 (as Guido Reni)
- Anonymous sale, London, Christie’s, 12 April 1983, lot 109a (as Pietro Antonio de Pietri);
- Purchased at the above sale by Ralph Holland (1917-2012), until 2013
Pietro Antonio de’ Pietri, also known as De Pitris, was born in Cadarese in the Valle Antigorio.1 At age fifteen he was sent to Rome, where other artists from Valle Antigorio were also working, and was housed by a relative, a wine merchant. Pietro was apprenticed to the painter Guiseppe Ghezzi, and then to the Cremonese painter Angelo Massarotti, where he worked for two years.
Around 1683 Pietro entered the workshop of Carlo Maratti, at that time already recognized as one of the leading painters of the Roman late Baroque. Maratti appreciated Pietro’s skill in executing copies, and instructed him to draw copies of Raphael’s Stanze in the Vatican, as was recorded by the artist’s biographer Orlandi in 1733. Together with Andrea Procaccini, he also executed restorations to these frescoes. In 1703 De’ Pietri was accepted as a member of the Academy of the Virtuosi of the Pantheon, and a few years later of the Academy of St Luke, testifying to the establishment of his artistic persona in Rome.
De’ Pietri’s important commissions include an altarpiece of Sts Peter, Paul, Joseph and angels for the church of San Rocco, Premia, and a picture of the Virgin and Child with Sts Joseph and Anna for the church of San Michele, Pavia. Other pictures were exported to England, and entered collections such as those at Burghley House. De’ Pietri indeed received an invitation to come and work in England, with a salary of 100 crowns a month, but chose to give up on this offer, fearing problems due to the difference of religion.
Numerous drawings by De’ Pietri survive, often made in preparation for painted works. The largest groups are to be found in the Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin (at least twenty-seven sheets), and in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle (at least twenty-three sheets). Other drawings are preserved in London (British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum), Copenhagen, Düsseldorf (at least five sheets), Salzburg, Philadelphia, Madrid (National Library), Chicago, Norfolk, Florence (Uffizi) and Dijon. Our sensitive drawing of a pensive old man can be compared to a group of ten head studies at Windsor, exectued in black, red and white chalk, for instance to the Study of the Head of an Old Man (see last fig.).2
SOLD TO A PRIVATE COLLECTOR, USA
1. The best biography of De Pietri is by Paolo Bellini in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, vol. 39, 1991.
2. A. Blunt and H.L. Cooke, The Roman Drawings of the XVII and XVIII Centuries ... at Windsor Castle, London 1960, p. 88, nos. 4396-4405, 4398 is reproduced.Request more information »