On the 8th November 2013, Farsettiarte
(Prato, Italia) will stage an unprecedented auction event, by offering two previously unknown drawings in one sheet by Andrea Mantegna (Isola di Carturo PD 1431 Mantova 1506). More than 500 years since they were executed, these two rare and important graphic studies, estimated at 140-220.000, will make their auction debuts.
Drawn by Andrea Mantegna on both sides, with two studies of the Lamentation of Christ on the recto and the Pietà on the verso, this sheet of 151x100 mm has never appeared on the market.
Farsettiarte is grateful to professor David Ekserdjian, professor of Art History University of Leicester and Trust of the National Gallery and of the Tate Gallery in London for confirming the attribution based on first hand inspection. The results of a research conducted on this artwork, entitled A new drawing by Andrea Mantegna, have been submitted to a major scientific art history journal.
This sheet is part of a group of drawings assigned to Andrea Mantegna during the retrospective exhibition dedicated to the artist in 1992 at the Royal Academy of Arts in London and at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The drawings can be compared to the Deposition in the Tosio Martinengo Gallery in Brescia. Slightly different in size (151x100 mm this one, 133x95 mm the one in Brescia), both were probably part of the same notebook since in the upper part, with a similar handwriting, the one at auction is inscribed 31 [V]ol 1 Mantegna and the one in Brescia, 37 Vol 1 Mantegna. Moreover, the verso of the sheet at auction has the same bonding red prints that are in the one in Brescia.
David Ekserdjians catalogue entry for the exhibition of 1992 traces the history of the Tosio Martinengos sheet in Brescia (already in Brozzoni collection), along the one of two other drawings: Three studies for a dead Christ from the British Museum in London (inv. 1909-4-6-1), and the Pietà of the Galleria dellAccademia in Venice (inv. 115). The scholar compared these drawings with the Deposition with four birds, dated around 1465 circa, whose composition has been assigned to Mantegna (Bartsch, 1811, XIII, 228.2, n. 1).
in 1925 Detlev Freiherr von Halden in Venezianische Zeichnungen des Quattrocento assigned the sheets at the British Museum and at the Tosio Martinengo to Giovanni Bellini. In 1930 Kenneth Clark assigned the same drawings to Andrea Mantegna in an article entitled Italian Drawings at Burlington House in the Burlington Magazine. His hypothesis was accepted later on by Hans Tietze and Erica Tietze-Conrat in 1944 (Drawings of the Venetian Painters) and Johannes Wilde in 1971 (Corrigenda and Addenda to the Catalogue of Prints and Drawings at 56 Princes Gate).
At a close examination the sheet at auction on the 8th November 2013 in Prato can be considered by the same hand of the ones at the British Museum and at the Tosio Martinengo Gallery, therefore a unique addition to the graphic catalogue of Andrea Mantegna.
Marco Fagioli, Head expert of the Old Master Paintings Department, wrote: the Lamentation of Christ is an extraordinary piece for compositional invention and drawing strength. In the upper part Mantegna composed the scene foreshortening Christ body according to the vanishing point perspective, a variation from the central perspective of the Lamentation over the Dead Christ of Brera in Milan. In this drawing the Holy Marys crying are positioned behind Christ and the left one, in profile, almost repeats the one of the painting in Brera. In this drawing, Christs perspective is underlined by the frontal poses of the three Holy Women, by their haloes, circles that become perspectic ellipses. In the lower part of the drawing Mantegna repeated Christ body in the opposite direction, with the head toward the viewer, achieving this way a high sense of drama.