On Tuesday, 14 December at 5 p.m., the exhibition “Di mano di Jacopo da Pontorme. Drawings by Jacopo da Pontorme in the collections of the Istituto centrale per la grafica” will open. This is the first time that the entire collection of drawings by Jacopo Carucci (1494-1556) – an artist better known as Pontormo because of his birthplace – has been exhibited.
Given the intrinsic fragility of the artefacts – to the point of discouraging their loan – this very important group of drawings, almost all double-sided, is little known even to specialists.
These masterpieces, some of which have never been seen before, refer to the artist’s most intimate creative activity and can be admired and compared until 20 March 2022 in the exhibition halls of the Calcografia, in Via della Stamperia 6 in Rome, a stone’s throw from the Trevi Fountain. This unrepeatable event is intended to be a moment of critical reflection, especially since it is a group of drawings fresh from the artist’s invention, a sort of personal workshop archive, whose importance attracted the attention of drawing experts through the years.
All drawings, come from the prestigious Corsini collection, once in Palazzo Corsini alla Lungara (now the Corsini Gallery), with the exception of one purchased by the Gabinetto Nazionale delle stampe in 1913.The Corsini Library – where drawings and prints were usually kept glued together m in volumes – was donated by Pope Clement XII to his nephew Neri Maria in 1733 and enlarged for over a century by the family’s descendants. In 1883 Prince Tommaso Corsini donated the whole graphic collection to the Accademia dei Lincei and in 1895, thanks to the interest of the art historian Adolfo Venturi, a large part of the volumes containing the most interesting prints and drawings formed the original nucleus of the Gabinetto Nazionale delle Stampe, set up in 1895 as a reference point for the conservation and study of graphic works.
The Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica was founded in 1975 through the union of the Gabinetto Nazionale delle Stampe and the Calcografia Camerale Nazionale of Pontifical heritage, afterwards Reale and Nazionale, which became “Centrale” in 2014 following the Franceschini reform.
Curated by Mario Scalini (Head of the ICG), Alessandro Cecchi (Director of Casa Buonarroti in Florence) and Giorgio Marini (Curator of the Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe of the ICG), with the direction of Giovanna Scaloni (ICG Art Historian), the exhibition features all 29 sheets with drawings by Pontormo owned by the Institute, whose technique of execution is mainly “sanguigna” or “pietra rossa” or red chalk, sometimes used in combination with “pietra nera” or black chalk, and white chalk highlights.
The drawings on the verso of some of these sheets (18 in total), which contain figure studies, are also displayed in facsimile, as they are so thin that they cannot tolerate a vertical flag display. The facsimiles are mounted in passe-partout and framed.
All in all, between the originals displayed in the showcases (recto) and the facsimiles of the verso on the walls, 47 works by Pontormo are presented, 23 of which can be traced back to the so-called Taccuino Corsini, of which the exhibition proposes a philological reconstruction, carryed out by
observing the bookbinding traces to on one side of the sheets, the dimensions, and other codicological hallmarks. These are mainly studies for figures, and therefore a repertoire of images, first ideas, studies from life, or even preparatory studies (for example for the Pala Pucci in San Michele Visdomini in Florence) to be used when necessary. These sheets are small in size (c. 210 x 150 mm).
Other high quality loose sheets refer to studies for compositions that were never completed, such as the Saint Christopher, the guiding image of the exhibition, the study for the Lunette with Saint Cecilia or the studies for the Portrait of Piero de’ Medici.
The exhibition catalogue is published by Allemandi Editore.
Finally, in order to bear witness to the extraordinary nature of the works, the Istituto centrale per la grafica has signed an agreement with Centrica, a private company with which the Pinacoteca di Brera and the Galleria degli Uffizi are already collaborating, to make all the pieces in the Institute’s possession, on which all the critics agree as to their authenticity, available online in a very high definition.