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Male Figure with Book; Partial Study of Ornamental Leaf Motif (front). Two Embracing Male Figures; Hand Study (reverse)

Giovanni Catesi (Pisa, active 1590-1600)

Early 17th century
Pen and ink, red chalk on paper
288 x 213 mm (maximum measurements)
no. 124400

This drawing in pen and ink over an outline in red chalk was recently (2000) recognised as a rare example of the graphic production by Giovanni Catesi, Tuscan sculptor and goldsmith of whose work there remains little. Previously, Catesi was especially known for two reliefs realized for one of the bronze doors of the Cathedral in Pisa, and most certainly attributable to him. These reliefs depict the Temptation of Christ and the Entry of Christ into Jerusalem and can be dated to between 1598 and 1600.

The artist has made some studies on paper, which were probably intended for different projects. The reverse side shows two intertwined male figures, perhaps conceived for a battle scene or for the episode of the Good Samaritan; due to the bold chiaroscuro contrasts and the overhead framing of the personages, the scene may be a preliminary sketch for a sculpted relief similar to the ones made for the Cathedral in Pisa. On the reverse side, Catesi has drawn an elegantly dressed youth, reminiscent of the androgynous creatures from the late 16th century, by artists such as Giambologna, Pietro Francavilla and Giovanni Caccini. The figure is particularly similar to the Angels created by Caccini for the main altar in the church of Santo Spirito in Florence, in 1601. Such similarity leads us to date the drawing at the beginning of the 17th century.

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