Study for the Assumption of the Virgin

Accession Number

Study for the Assumption of the Virgin

Palma il Giovane

Object Creation Date
circa 1544-1582

Medium & Support
pen and brown ink on off-white paper, mounted

10 ⅞ in x 7 3/16 in (27.62 cm x 18.26 cm);19 3/10 in x 14 3/10 in (49.05 cm x 36.35 cm);10 15/16 in x 7 ¼ in (27.78 cm x 18.41 cm)

Credit Line
Gift through the Estate of Edward Sonnenschein

Label copy
Gallery Rotation Fall 2013
Palma il Giovane
Italy, 1544–1628
Study for the Assumption of the Virgin
circa 1544–82
Pen and brown ink on off-white paper
Gift through the Estate of Edward Sonnenschein, 1970/2.20
The varied compositional groups in this sketch suggest it was perhaps made for a ceiling painting of the Assumption of the Virgin intended for the main hall of the Confraternity of Santa Maria della Giustizia in Venice. Though lost, this ceiling painting is known today through a copy in the Pinacoteca Querini Stampalia in Venice in which Christ leads the Virgin up to heaven towards God the Father in the presence of the twenty-four elders of the Apocalypse and angels. This sketch depicts some of these heavenly figures, seated on clouds in contorted and dynamic poses. The quick strokes that define their rounded forms are characteristic of Palma’s style in the early 1580s.
While Israhel Meckenem’s Death of the Virgin (adjacent) likely served as a personal object, Palma’s sketch was for a large painting in a highly visible public space, suggesting a much broader audience. The dynamic effervescence and rounded forms of his composition could have been appreciated from a distance, while the angular and well defined forms in Meckenem’s print would have encouraged a much more intimate engagement with the work.

Subject matter
Although now lost, Palma il Giovane's painting of the Assumption of the Virgin showed Christ leading the Virgin towards heaven while surrounded by the forty elders of the Apocalypse and angels.

Physical Description
Loosely drawn figure studies principally seen from below and scattered across the sheet. Most of the figures are seated or stretching upwards away from the viewer. Drawing indicates a varied degree of finish; some figures seem to have been fairly carefully drawn with proper foreshortening of the figures while others are more summarily described.

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