Group of three sketchbooks, the first with a frontispiece lettered: Livro de Ioao Estrebèle, em q[ue] tràta, das enmendas dos sevs, mestres, con de mostracoiñs, dos sevs, pe[n]samentos. A.D. MDCCXLII. Romæ
Rome, c. 1734-1742
Three volumes, I (227 × 167 mm): 80 ff. (of which 40 ff. are blank). II (220 × 132 mm): 93 ff. (of which 4 ff. are blank). III (188 × 130 mm): 55 ff., and three sheets loosely inserted. Contemporary vellum over pasteboards.
Provenance: Almirante Carlos Braga, Porto (c. 1940) – auction conducted by Livraria Manuel Ferreira, “Biblioteca do Dr. José Joaquim de Oliveira Bastos”, Porto, 4 November 2008, lot 2.
Three sketchbooks of a young Portuguese artist in early Settecento Rome, successively a pupil there of Marco Benefial (1684-1764) and Agostino Masucci (1691-1768). They contain drawings after antiquities (or studio casts of antique sculpture); drapery studies; figure studies (a few possibly from live models, but no nudes are present); drawn copies of paintings by Old Masters (notably Raphael’s frescoes in the Vatican Loggie, works located by Glama Ströberle in the Colonna Gallery, and “in the house” of his teacher, Marco Benefial); drawn copies of other studio materials, notably topographical drawings or prints (of Pisa, Siena, Mallorca, etc.), together with views of Rome probably made from direct observation; and portrait sketches (both of his teachers were prolific portrait painters). Some drawings record Glama Ströberle’s own compositions; annotations placed next to these relate the criticisms and contributions of Benefial and Masucci. At the front of one sketchbook (here designated, Sketchbook [I]), Glama Ströberle writes that his “main reason for compiling this book” was to “show the large difference that exists between my first and only teacher in Rome [Benefial] and the one who followed … him” [Masucci].
Sketchbook [I] contains a valuable, autobiographical statement. Glama Ströberle writes that he studied in Lisbon for six years with Francisco Vieira Lusitano and “various masters”, and went to Rome with the encouragement of the sculptor Caetano Pace “Romano” and financial assistance from his father, arriving there on 18 October 1734. Vieira Lusitano advised him to study with Marco Benefial, and he states that he received Benefial’s instruction for seven years, supported by the patronage of Jose Maria da Fonseca e Évora (minister for Portugal in Rome, Dom Joao V’s principal agent in the commission of works of art for Mafra). In 1741, Évora returned to Portugal (to become Bishop of Porto), and about the same time Glama Ströberle’s father died, causing Glama Ströberle to return to Portugal. While there, he found a new patron in Alexandre de Gusmão, a former special envoy to the Vatican, perhaps not incidentally a collector of paintings by Vieira Lusitano, and two months later Glama Ströberle was back in Rome. According to Glama Ströberle’s statement, De Gusmão stipulated that he become a student of Agostino Masucci, the past Principe (1736-1738) of the Accademia di San Luca, and in 1741 one of the leading painters in Rome.
This autobiographical statement supplements (and corrects) the notices of Glama Ströberle written by Machado, an eighteenth-century painter who chronicled the lives of his fellow artists (Collecçao de memorias relativas às vidas dos pintores, printed 1823) and Saraiva (Lista de alguns artistas Portuguezes, printed 1839, his entry based on an unpublished memoir by João Chiape, who had been a pupil of Glama Ströberle). Several biographical details given by Gerardo Casale, “Rapporti tra l’Accademia di San Luca e i Portoghesi a Roma” in Giovanni V di Portogallo (1707-1750) e la cultura romana del suo tempo (Rome 1995), pp.377-384, are proved erroneous: for instance, a claim that Glama Ströberle arrived in Rome in 1720.
Most – if not all – the drawings in sketchbook [I] appear to be original compositions of Glama Ströberle: a series of seventeen episodes from the Old Testament, executed in pen and ink and wash; twelve scenes from classical mythology, similarly executed; five studies executed in red chalk; and three more finished compositions in pen and ink and wash. These drawings date from 1734 until circa 1742 (i.e. during Glama Ströberle’s period of study under Benefial). Sketchbook [II] is inscribed “begun in the year 1741” and contains copies of paintings (or bozzetti) which Glama Ströberle locates in Benefial’s studio (“em sua casa particular”), views of Rome, Naples, Civitavecchia, Pisa and other cities in Italy, and drawings made in Portugal during Glama Ströbele’s brief visit in 1741. Other drawings in the same sketchbook perhaps were made after his final return home, such as one of the “Castelo de Santa Maria da Feira” and another of the church of Saint John Facundo at Vinhais, which has a lengthy caption added in September 1777. Sketchbook [III] likewise is a mixture of Roman and Portuguese drawings and inscriptions (including comparisons of the measurements of the cathedrals of Porto and Braga), none precisely dated.
The three sketchbooks first came to notice in 1940, when interest focused on the topographical views of Portugal, and in particular on “Castelo de Santa Maria da Feira” (II, f. 71 recto): that sheet was featured in Portucale: revista ilustrada de cultura, literária, scientifia, e artistica 13 (January-February 1940), and again in Arquivo do Distrito de Aveiro 8 (1942). Two other sheets were published by Pedro Vitorino, “Museus, Galerias e Colecções XXV. Álbuns de artistas” in Revista de Guimares 53 (January-June 1943). The sketchbooks are next mentioned by Jorge de Mello Azevedo, “O Pintor João Glama Stroeberle: Esboço biográfico e crítico” in Boletim da Academia Portuguesa de Ex-Libris 9 (January 1964), pp.1-11; Paula Mesquita Santos, “Croquis, academias e outros estudos de João Glama no Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga” in Vária escrita: cadernos do Gabinete de Estudos Históricos e Documentais 8 (2001), pp.161-189, where (p.171 no. 2985) a drawing of “Apollo and Daphne” in Lisbon is compared to one included here ([I], f.29 recto).