Drawing, executed in pencil, pen and brown ink with wash, 293 × 225 mm.
This drawing of an unusually elaborate early Imperial altar or statue base was commissioned by Cassiano dal Pozzo (1588-1657) for his celebrated “Museo Cartaceo”. Although better-known as a specialist in natural history, the draughtsman Vincenzo Leonardi also supplied Cassiano with drawings after the antique. In 1625, he was the only artist to accompany Cassiano on a legation led by Cardinal Francesco Barberini to France, where he documented for Cassiano objects of botanical, ornithological, geological, and archaeological interest. The altar recorded on our sheet is identified with one now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts at Lyon; it is speculated that it was already in France in 1625, and was drawn by Leonardi on this trip. Two other aspects of the altar by the same hand and also from the “Museo Cartaceo” are in the so-called “Franks volumes” at the British Museum (volume I, folios 150-151). Our drawing was exhibited in Rome together with other drawings and paintings from the Dal Pozzo collections (Galleria nazionale d’arte antica, Palazzo Barberini, 29 September-26 November 2000) and also in Biella (Museo del territorio Biellese, 16 December 2001-16 March 2002).