Progetto Euploos

Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe delle Gallerie degli Uffizi

Scheda Catalogo "101773"

Apri Immagini Opera
Scheda aggiornata al 18-10-2022
Opera 101773
  • inv. 101773
  • Fontana Carlo (1638/ 1714)
  • cerchia
  • Alzato del coro della chiesa di Santa Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi, Firenze, lato dell'altare
  • Tecnica e materia: penna e inchiostro, pennello e inchiostro diluito, punta di piombo (o grafite), ripassi a stilo su carta
  • Misure: 352 x 190 mm
  • Stemmi, emblemi, marchi: timbro a inchiostro di collezione: Reale Galleria degli Uffizi (Lugt 929) sul recto in basso a destra
  • Schede correlate: 129 A , 3596 A , 3644 A , 3676 A , 3679 A , 3682 A , 3691 A , 101772 , 101774

Notizie storiche e critiche

Inv. 101773, together with inv. 101774 with which it forms a pair, belong to a group of drawings at the GDSU preparatory for two important architectural books published in the historic shop of the De’ Rossi family near Santa Maria della Pace in Rome. These are the 'Insignium Romæ Templorum Prospectus', published in 1683 and in an enlarged and numbered edition in 1684 by Giovanni Giacomo de’ Rossi (GDSU, invv. 129 A, 3644 A, 3676 A, 3679 A, 3680 A, 3682 A, 3691 A), and the 'Disegni di Vari Altari e Cappelle' (GDSU, invv. 3596 A, 101772), published by Giovanni Giacomo de’ Rossi and his son Domenico in 1688–1689. The group belongs to a larger corpus at GDSU comprising some 170 highly finished drawings depicting Roman Baroque buildings which were clearly part of one or more albums, and for the great majority catalogued under Ciro Ferri by Pasquale Nerino Ferri. The attribution of the whole body of drawings to the Roman painter, architect and prolific designer for prints was endorsed by Morolli, maintained by Falaschi, but it is now largely rejected with the exception of the invv. 101773 and 101774, here discussed together, and of inv. 101772 (for which see related entry) . Invv. 101773 and 101774 depict two views of the Choir of Santa Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi, Florence, which was Ciro Ferri’s chief architectural project outside Rome. Their importance rests in the fact that they document the design of the building as conceived by Ferri with the unexecuted dome stucco decoration . The traditional attribution to Ciro Ferri of this pair, put forward by Pasquale Nerino Ferri, has been maintained by various scholars . However, doubts were expressed by Bruce William Davis (1986), who noted that ‘these drawings are suspiciously close to the engravings in de Rossi’s 'Disegni', and by Jörg Martin Merz (2008), who pointed out that inv. 101774 is not by Ciro Ferri but a preparatory drawing for the corresponding print in the 'Disegni'. This is an opinion shared by the present author . Close scrutiny of the paper in raking light confirms that they are preparatory cartonetti for plates 32 and 33 of 'I Disegni di Vari Altari e Cappelle'. They are both incised for transfer on to the plate. Inv. 101774 is drawn in reverse to the print. Though the versos are not coated with red chalk, another piece of 'copy carbon' paper must have been inserted between the sheet and the plate, according to a common method of transfer. Marks running vertically along each of the images might have resulted from the folding of the sheet around the etching plate to secure it in preparation for the transfer process. While Ferri was a prolific designer for prints, these two drawings lack the richness of surface which is so characteristic of the painter’s drawings. Rather, they are executed by a skilled draughtsman after one of Ferri’s modelli that must have been available at the time. The misattribution of invv. 101773 and 101774 may have contributed to the opinion that Ciro Ferri played a significant role in the planning and execution specifically of the Disegni along with De’ Rossi, as first suggested by Cresti . However, there is no evidence that Ferri’s involvement in the making of the Disegni went beyond providing a concetto for the frontispiece, which he signs as inventor. On the other hand, many elements point towards Carlo Fontana as the architect who might have acted as adviser alongside De’ Rossi, as we shall see. It is by using new material evidence that the use, function and thus attribution of a significant group among the Florentine corpus can now be reassessed. What follows is a broader discussion of the wider group of drawings at the Uffizi preparatory for De Rossi’s books. With the exception of inv. 3644 A, all the sheets that have so far been identified at the Uffizi show indented outlines. Additionally, most of them have versos coated with red chalk, indicating beyond any doubt that they were used to transfer the designs onto the plate using the calco method. By coating the verso with red or black chalk, the drawing was turned into ‘copy carbon’ paper, the pressure of a blunt point along the outlines transferring the chalk onto the plate which had been grounded with a thin layer of wax. This was a very common technique used to transfer drawings onto the plate. It however required the drawn image to be traced in reverse onto the plate in order for the print to appear in the correct orientation. What is striking about this group of is that their orientation is not immediately apparent, a fact that has led to their misinterpretation (See each entry for a detailed discussion.). Whenever the translation on paper of the building returned symmetrical or almost symmetrical compositions, the draughtsmen employed a method of selective transfer aimed at deceiving the viewer. Close scrutiny using a simple source of raking light shows that only the symmetrical parts of the design were indented and thus transferred onto the plate. Many of the decorative elements, which would have been decisive in defining the orientation of the building, are not gone over with a stylus and thus were not transferred (see for example GDSU invv. 3676 A, 3680 A, 3679 A, 101772). The waxed ground of the etching plate would have allowed the designers to draw directly onto it. The selective transfer of drawings onto another support, whether a printing plate or another piece of paper, was widely used. It must have been particularly useful for drawings for architectural prints whenever there was an intention to create drawings which accurately translated the building in the correct orientation. Along with the selective transfer, reversal could be avoided by using the method of double-incision from the recto and verso, as seen in GDSU inv. 3596 A; by oiling the paper in order to make the sheet transparent, which meant the design could be indented from the verso, as seen in two drawings for plates 6 and 7 in the 'Prospectus' at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford ; or by simply copying the design, as might have been the case for GDSU inv. 3644 A. This extant body of drawings thus offers a rich insight into the working methods of a seventeenth-century print workshop. The evidence also allows us to attribute many of these drawings to the designers employed by De’ Rossi, in particular, to Francesco Antonio Bufalini, a member of the circle of Carlo and Francesco Fontana (GDSU invv. 3676 A, 3680 A, 3679 A, 129 A and 3691 A), and to the little-known, yet highly skilled, Lorenzo Nuvolone (GDSU inv. 3682 A). In the light of the evidence here provided, a systematic scrutiny of the body of drawings at the Uffizi should lead to the identification of other drawings for De’ Rossi’s books, as well as to further corrections on the use and functions of the sheets so far identified . Many are clearly by anonymous draughtsman not established enough to sign the plates and are thus difficult to attribute. This is the case for the pair depicting Maddalena de’ Pazzi discussed above, for which no name of draughtsman or etcher is indicated on the correspondent plates. The importance of the 'Prospectus' and the 'Disegni', along with the 'Studio d’Architettura Civile' published by Domenico de’ Rossi in 1702, 1711 and 1721 has long been acknowledged. In both design and content, De’ Rossi’s books strongly reflect the methodology and cultural atmosphere of the Accademia di San Luca towards the end of the 1670s. These publications responded to the need for textbooks for students, while the large and accurate plates, reproducing the drawing according to the rigorous method of the orthogonal projection, provided models for the established architects. The drawings so far identified for the books are all highly finished and in a good state of preservation in spite of the fact that they were used in the printmaking process. Many are executed on thick paper which would have made them resilient to the transfer process. Their physical appearance, alongside the evidence of working procedures, strongly suggests that there was an intention to create drawings that could act as working tools, but also as independent works. It is unlikely that they were preserved by the publishers since they owned the copperplates, now in the Istituto Centrale per la Grafica, Rome, established in 1738 by the Camera Apostolica, which acquired the stock belonging to Filippo, son of Domenico de’ Rossi and the last of the family’s heirs. The careful and systematic making of this unique body of drawings indicates, nonetheless, the presence of an architect acting as an adviser to De’ Rossi. It is possible that the publisher found his draughtsman among the studio of Carlo Fontana, the architect who from the 1670s played a crucial role, both in his studio and in the Accademia di San Luca, in defining a method of transmitting knowledge based on the use of a new type of drawing. The style and content of the sheets here discussed – as with those for Domenico De Rossi’s 'Studio d’Architettura Civile' – strongly echo the type of drawing promoted by Fontana, especially with the establishment of the concorsi, or competitions, at the Accademia di San Luca in 1677. Fontana promulgated the production of clear orthogonal images, enhanced by blue-grey or brown wash to emphasise the three-dimensional qualities of buildings: in Fontana’s teaching practice the translation onto paper of important examples of modern architecture was a fundamental stage in an architect’s education . It is not unlikely that the sheets produced for De’ Rossi’s books were part of a wider didactic exercise involving Fontana’s pupils and collaborators. Another indication in this direction is provided by the existence among the group of 170 sheets of other highly finished elevations and sections of Baroque buildings that, although close in scale and content to the books, were not used . As works in their own right, these drawings may present evidence of a working relationship between De’ Rossi and Fontana that may have begun in the 1670s . (Angelamaria Aceto 2017)


  • Detroit/ Firenze 1974
    Lankheit K., The Twilight of the Medici: Late Baroque Art in Florence. 1670–1743, catalogo mostra Detroit/ Firenze, Detroit, Detroit Institute of Arts/ Firenze, Palazzo Pitti 1974, Firenze 1974, p. 454 nn. 268a-268b (scheda a cura di Ghigiotti G.)


  • Davis B. W. 1986
    Davis B. W., The drawings of Ciro Ferri, New York, 1986, , p. 39
  • Pacini P. 2004
    Pacini P., Fasto barocco e rigore monastico per S. Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi. La costruzione della cappella-reliquario di Ciro Ferri, in Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, XLVII, 2004, p. 381
  • Merz J. M. 2008
    Merz J. M., Pietro da Cortona and Roman Baroque Architecture, New Haven, 2008, p. 317 nota 13
  • Antinori A. 2012
    Antinori A., I Disegni di vari Altari e Cappelle, in Antinori A., Studio d’Architettura Civile: gli atlanti di architettura moderna e la diffusione dei modelli romani nell’Europa del Settecento, Roma ,2012, p. 252
  • Placentino P. 2012
    Placentino P., Gli Insignium Romae Templorum Prospectus, in Antinori A., Studio d’Architettura Civile: gli atlanti di architettura moderna e la diffusione dei modelli romani nell’Europa del Settecento, Roma ,2012, p. 260
  • Aceto A. 2017
    Aceto A., From building to print: Giovanni Giacomo de’ Rossi and the making of architectural books, in The Burlington Magazine, CLIX, 2017, pp. 703-704
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