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Sheet of Figure Studies

Accession Number
2008/2.199.4

Title
Sheet of Figure Studies

Artist(s)
Pietro Testa

Object Creation Date
1635-1640

Medium & Support
pen and brown ink on laid paper

Dimensions
10 in. x 15 in. ( 25.4 cm x 38.1 cm )

Credit Line
Gift from the Joseph F. McCrindle Collection

Label copy
*Gallery Rotation Winter 2011 (January 2011)
Pietro Testa
Italy, 1612–1650
Sheet of Figure Studies
circa 1630–50
Pen and brown ink on paper
Gift from the Joseph F. McCrindle Collection, 2008/2.199.4
Sometime in the 1620s Testa left his native Lucca for Rome, where he made studies after prominent artists and moved in a circle that included the French painter Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665) and a number of theorists and intellectuals. This sheet of rapid sketches indicates a broad sampling of figures that could be further developed for inclusion in both paintings and etchings, in which Testa was proficient. Figures who appear to be saints or depict Biblical subjects jockey for space on the sheet with allegorical figures, such as the woman next to a globe at the bottom accompanied by the inscription, “Astrologia.” Testa’s vibrant, spidery style both captures summary poses and describes more developed figures.
Gallery Rotation Winter 2011
Pietro Testa
Italy, 1612–1650
Sheet of Figure Studies
circa 1630–50
Pen and brown ink on paper
Gift from the Joseph F. McCrindle Collection, 2008/2.199.4
Sometime in the 1620s Testa left his native Lucca for Rome, where he made studies after prominent artists and moved in a circle that included the French painter Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665) and a number of theorists and intellectuals. This sheet of rapid sketches indicates a broad sampling of figures that could be further developed for inclusion in both paintings and etchings, in which Testa was proficient. Figures who appear to be saints or depict Biblical subjects jockey for space on the sheet with allegorical figures, such as the woman next to a globe at the bottom accompanied by the inscription, “Astrologia.” Testa’s vibrant, spidery style both captures summary poses and describes more developed figures.

Subject matter
The studies on this sheet epitomize the fluid and dynamic drawing style of Pietro Testa that made him one of the most renowned draughtsmen and printmakers working in Rome during the 1630s and 40s. The studies represent a variety of figures, some illustrating apparent religious subjects. The only recognizable figure is Astrology, depicted near the bottom edge of the sheet, who is identified by an inscription and the globe in her left hand. Although his prints and drawings garned Testa recognition and were widely sought by collectors, he suffered a number of professional setbacks, partly due to his acerbic personality, and never achieved the public notoriety as a painter that he strongly coveted.

Physical Description
This sheet contains studies of fourteen figures in various stages of elaboration. Several of the figures are represented standing while gazing upward, including a man with an outstretched arm on the left edge of the sheet, a woman standing before a column near the center, and a man with a cross over his shoulder in the upper right corner. Two summarily sketched seated figures in the lower left corner appear to develop ideas for a similar figure placed at the foot of a column in a more detailed study near the middle of the sheet. In the upper left quadrant of the sheet appears a monk kneeling beneath a tree with a figure holding a staff standing behind him. Marked off by an octagonal frame along the lower edge is a seated female figure pointing upward with her right hand and holding a globe in her left.

Primary Object Classification
Drawing

Primary Object Type
preparatory drawing

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
drawing (image-making)
figures (representations)
globes (cartographic spheres)
studies (visual works)

& Author Notes

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