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The Right Part of a Study for a 'Donation of Constantine'
  • The Right Part of a Study for a 'Donation of Constantine'

    TitleThe Right Part of a Study for a 'Donation of Constantine'
  • Technique/ MaterialIncised lines, black chalk, pen and brown ink on paper. Verso: See NMH 330/1863 verso
  • DimensionsDimensions: (h x b) 41,8 x 28,7 cm
    Frame: (h x b x dj) 60 x 47 x 3,5 cm
  • DatingExecuted between 1520 and 1521
  • Artist/Maker Artist: Giulio Romano, Italian, born 1492 or 1499, born 1492 or 1499, dead 1546
    Former attribution: Timoteo Viti, Italian, born c. 1470, dead 1523
  • CategoryDrawings, Free-hand drawings, Studies
  • ClassificationDrawing
  • Geographical originItalien
  • Inventory No.NMH 329/1863 recto
  • AcquisitionÖvertagande 1866 från Kongl. Museum
  • Description
    Literature
    Artist/Maker
    Images and media

    Numbered in pen and brown ink at lower right: 269 (Sparre)

    The drawing, along with two others, seems to be preparatory to the Donation of Costantine in the Sala di Costantino in the Vatican, perhaps planned by Raphael, but executed by Giulio Romano about 1524 in a very different form.

    The drawing shows the Emperor Constantine with his retinue. Sirén connected it with a drawing in the Louvre, containing the left part of the composition, showing the pope and his retinue. The whole composition is preserved in a modello in Amsterdam. The Stockholm and Paris drawings seem to have been part of the same sheet. The modello has the same size and is composed of two sheets; the vertical join divides the composition in exactly the same place as in the two sketches.

    The setting is in front of a palace. In accordance with traditional iconography, the kneeling emperor presents the pope with a horse and a crown. Although Quednau denied the existence of a crown in the drawing, there can be no doubt that it is held out by the kneeling man behind the emperor. It does not figure in the Amsterdam drawing, but there the pope is wearing the tiara. The woman in the background is not normally part of the iconography; her importance is stressed by the pointing courtier and she occupies the centre of the composition. She might be the empress; her gesture, seemingly inviting the pope into the palace behind her, would fit this context.

    The composition underwent a radical transformation. In the fresco the ceremony takes place inside S. Peter's, the pope sits on a throne and receives a statuette representing Roma from the emperor; the left part of the composition is given over to an audience witnessing the event, a drawing of this part, fairly close to the final solution, is in Oxford. The drawings are undoubtedly by Giulio Romano, but opinions are divided as to whether they reflect Raphael's original project, before interruption of work at the death of Leo X in 1521, or show changes made in connection with the resumption of work under Clement VII. It seems clear that the left part of the earlier composition (Paris) is based on a chalk study in Boston, a study after models showing the pope carried in a 'sedes gestatoria', this drawing is now generally regarded as by Raphael. However, it is not clear that this study was made specifically for this composition; Quednau and others have noted that the Donation does not figure in the list of subjects to be painted, reported by Sebastiano del Piombo in a letter to Michelangelo shortly after Leo's death. The validity of this and other reasons given for a later dating of the drawings has been questioned by Gere, followed by Ferino Pagden. The drawings most likely reflect the first stage, then datable 1520-21 [Bjurström, It. Drawings, cat. no. 464]