Studies of putti with scrolling forms, lying on the ground, and a mask design with scrolling forms View larger
Tesi (Mauro Antonio), 1730-1766

Studies of putti with scrolling forms, lying on the ground, and a mask design with scrolling forms

[Bologna], c. 1760?

Drawing, executed in pen and brown ink over black chalk, laid down on 19th-century mount, inscribed on the mount Maura Tasia and 5 W L 48, 135 × 347 mm.

The old attribution on the mount to Mauro Tesi is confirmed by similarities to a drawing published by Richard Wunder in 1965 (Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Museum of Art, 1960/2.20). Both sheets are executed in the same manner in Tesi’s distinctive pen style, and are strongly reminiscent of Stefano della Bella’s ornament prints. The Michigan drawing, in fact, carried an attribution to Della Bella before Wunder associated it with etchings by Tesi in imitation of prints by Della Bella. Comparable drawings by Tesi of decorative friezes incorporating masks and satyr’s heads, garlands, and infants, are in Rome, Geneva, Sammlung Schloss Fachsenfeld, Venice, and New York; some were etched by Clemente Nicoli, others apparently by the artist himself. Mauro Tesi, who died at the age of 36, had taught himself by copying the drawings of the great Bolognese masters of the previous century, Agostino Mitelli and Angelo Michele Colonna. All kinds of ornament interested him, but soon a natural predisposition towards architectural decoration asserted itself.

Our drawing was extracted in 1990 from an album (“Drawings by Old Italian Masters. Sculpture”) assembled circa 1871 by Sir William Stirling-Maxwell, 9th Baronet, of Pollok (1818-1878). The two albums contained mostly drawings commissioned by Cassiano dal Pozzo (1588-1637) for his celebrated “Museo Cartaceo”. After Cassiano’s death, the “Museo Cartaceo” was augmented by his younger brother, Carlo Antonio dal Pozzo, then by Cardinal Alessandro Albani, who incorporated drawings inherited from his uncle, Pope Clement XI, including a hoard accumulated by the artist Carlo Maratti. This drawing most probably is a sheet introduced to the corpus by Cardinal Albani, whose collection was sold in 1762 to James Adam as agent for George III. About 1000 drawings were appropriated by the Royal Librarian, Richard Dalton (1715-1791), and came onto the market at Dalton’s deceased sale (11-19 May 1791), passing thereafter through the collections of several antiquaries, eventually into the possession of Stirling Maxwell.

Subjects
Drawings - Artists, Italian - Tesi (Mauro Antonio), 1730-1766
Artists/Illustrators
Tesi, Mauro Antonio, 1730-1766
Owners
Stirling Maxwell, William, Sir, 1818-1878

Tesi, Mauro Antonio, detto il Maurino
Montalbano, Modena 1730 – 1766 Bologna

Studies of putti with scrolling forms, lying on the ground, and a mask design with scrolling forms

[Bologna? circa 1760]

drawing, pen and brown ink over black chalk, 135 × 347 mm, laid down on a nineteenth-century mount, inscribed on the mount Maura Tasia and 5 W L L 48.

In a gilt frame.

provenance Sir William Stirling-Maxwell, 9th Baronet, of Pollok (1818-1878) — his album of ‘Drawings by Old Italian Masters. Sculpture’, dispersed by Phillips Son & Neale, London, 12 December 1990, lot 281 (£1895)

The old attribution on the mount to Mauro Tesi is confirmed by similarities to a drawing published by Richard Wunder in 1965.1 Both sheets are executed in the same manner in Tesi’s distinctive pen style, and are strongly reminiscent of Stefano della Bella’s ornament prints. The Michigan drawing, in fact, carried an attribution to Della Bella before Wunder associated it with etchings by Tesi in imitation of prints by Della Bella.2

Comparable drawings with garlands, satyr’s heads, and infants, are in Rome;3 Geneva;4 Sammlung Schloss Fachsenfeld;5 Venice;6 New York,7 and on the art market.8 Similar drawings by Tesi of decorative friezes incorporating masks were etched by Clemente Nicoli,9 and by the artist himself.10

Mauro Tesi, who died at the age of 36, had taught himself by copying the drawings of the great Bolognese masters of the previous century, Agostino Mitelli and Angelo Michele Colonna. All kinds of ornament interested Tesi, but soon a natural predisposition towards architectural decoration asserted itself.11

Detail from our drawing

Fig. 1 Comparative illustration ‘Due fregi decorativi e un mascheron’, engraving by Clemente Nicoli after Mauro Tesi (Reggio Emilia, Biblioteca Panizzi, Sezione Gabinetto delle stampe ‘Angelo Davoli’, Inv.10386; image source)
Fig. 2 Comparative illustration Detail of ‘Two Sections of Arabesque Friezes in Imitation of Classical Sculpture’, drawing attributed to Mauro Tesi (University of Michigan Museum of Art, 1960/2.20; image source)

1. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Museum of Art, 1960/2.20; Richard P. Wunder, Architectural and ornament drawings of the 16th to the early 19th centuries in the collection of The University of Michigan Museum of Art (Ann Arbor 1965), p.[21] no. 28; Collection catalogue (image).

2. ‘Frises, feuillages et grotesques’ (set of 8), ‘Ornamenti di fregi e fogliami’ (set of 16), published c. 1645. Alexandre De Vesme, Stefano della Bella: Catalogue raisonné, edited by P.D. Massar (New York 1971), nos. 979-1002.

3. Rome, Gabinetto Nazionale delle Stampe, Taccuino 2511, FN7756-7787; compare FN7768 (image). A sketchbook of thirty drawings by Tesi, acquired in 1932 (record).

4. Geneva, Musée d’art et d’histoire, Cabinet des dessins, Inv. 1959-84; Anne de Herdt, Dessins anciens d’architecture et de décoration: donation Gustave Hentsch, ancienne Collection Edmond Fatio, catalogue for an exhibition held at the Musée d’art et d’histoire, Geneva, 15 February-15 September 1979 (Geneva 1979), p.38 no. 43. Collection catalogue (image).

5. Inv.-Nr. I/1632; Christel Thiem, Bolognesische Zeichnungen 1600–1830 aus der Sammlung Schloss Fachsenfeld, mit Leihgaben aus Windsor Castle und der Fondazione Cini Venedig, catalogue of the exhibition presented at the Graphische Sammlung der Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, 2 March-2 May 1982 (Stuttgart 1982), pp.178-179 no. 121.

6. Venice, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Raccolta Antonio Certani, Inv. 31714; Chiara Basalti, ‘Nuove proposte sul fondo Antonio Certani: disegni di ornato di Mauro Tesi, Carlo Bianconi’ in Saggi e memorie di storia dell’arte 34 (2010), pp.115-116 fig. 7.

7. New York, Morgan Library & Museum, 1982.75:632. An album of 41 ‘Drawings after antique sculpture and motifs and several set designs’ (catalogue record).

8. ‘Cartouche with grotesque masks’, Sotheby’s, New York, 28 January 1998, lot 229; ‘Study for a grotesque’, Phillips, London, 22 April 1998, lot 82.

9. ‘Due fregi decorativi con volute e mascheroni e una testa di leone’ and ‘Due fregi decorativi e un mascherone’, signed respectively C.N. [monogram] scul. | Maurus Tesi deli. and M.T. del. | C.N. scul. (Reggio Emilia, Biblioteca Panizza, Raccolta Davoli, Sezione Gabinetto delle stampe ‘Angelo Davoli’, Inv. 10387 image, and 10386 image).

10. ‘Fregi, vasi, teste, in tutto tredici elementi’ (Bologna, Pinacoteca Nazionale, Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe, Inv. 5222, vol. 12), reproduced by Giovanna Gaeta Bertelà, Catalogo generale della raccolta di stampe antiche della Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna, Gabinetto delle Stampe: Incisori Bolognesi ed Emiliani del sec. XVIII (Bologna 1974), no. 865; and by Wanda Bergamini, in L’arte del Settecento emiliano: x Biennale d’arte antica. Architettura, scenografia, pittura di paesaggio, catalogue for an exhibition held in Bologna, 1979, edited by Anna Maria Matteucci (Bologna 1980), p.34 no. 39a and fig. 29.

11. For Tesi’s career, see Wanda Bergamini, ‘La cultura di Mauro Tesi: “Ecco il frutto dello studiare attentamente gl’antichi professori”’ in I decoratori di formazione bolognese tra Settecento e Ottocento. Da Mauro Tesi ad Antonio Basoli, edited by Anna Maria Matteucci (Milan 2002), pp.105-114, reprinted in Wanda Bergamini, Scritti d’arte, edited by Deanna Lenzi, A.M. Matteucci Armandi, and Vincenza Riccardi Scassellati Sforzolini (Bologna 2009), pp.113-121.

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