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  • Mosman, Nicolas, 1727-1787

    Rome, c. 1755-1765

    A series of forty-four large chalk drawings (circa 482/525 × 345/360 mm) of exemplary antique statues in Rome, perhaps executed for an English patron, or with a view toward eventual publication in England, as they are scaled in both English piedi and Roman palmi. Nicolas Mosman is known chiefly by a set of drawings of paintings in Roman collections, produced between 1764 and 1787 for Brownlow Cecil, 9th Earl of Exeter. In Rome, Mosman was linked socially and professionally with the painter Mengs, the archaeologist Winckelmann, the painter-dealer Thomas Jenkins, and the restorer Bartolomeo Cavaceppi. His selection of sculpture reflects the revaluation of antique sculpture then being undertaken by Mengs and Winckelmann, and the commercial transactions of Jenkins and Cavaceppi. In addition to the narrow canon of masterpieces established by Mengs, Mosman documents recent additions to the Capitoline collection (purchases by Clement XII from the Albani and Odescalchi collections, and by Benedict XIV from the D'Este collection and from digger-dealers), and sculptures within the Barberini, Borghese, Casali, Farnese, Giustiniani, Ludovisi, Medici, Pighini, Spada, and Verospi family collections recently lauded by Winckelmann. Four drawings depict antique sculptures restored by Bartolomeo Cavaceppi and introduced onto the market in 1754/1755, 1764, 1766/1768 respectively; another two are of modern sculptures: a bronze statue of Mercury by Guglielmo della Porta in the Palazzo Farnese and a marble statue of Santa Susanna by François Duquesnoy in S. Maria di Loreto. The drawings were mounted on album leaves in the nineteenth century, when a title-leaf and a contents-leaf were supplied, and the sheets numbered sequentially in ink. The date “1755” in the title perhaps was found on a portfolio that previously held the loose sheets; it could be the date of the earliest drawing, made soon after Mosman's arrival in Rome.