Seated beggar presenting his hat

Giovanni Gioseffo Dal Sole

(Bologna 1654 – 1719) Sold

  • Red chalk. Old mount.
  • 297 × 215 mm (11.7 × 8.5)
  • On the verso, in pen and brown ink: 's' (top); 'del Sig. Gio. Giosef. ° del Sole'. An additional inscription in pen and brown ink, not legible, appears along the lower left corner.

Edited by Luca Giunta Baroni

On September 27, 1672, during a visit to the estate of the Bolognese count Alessandro Fava, the eighteen-year-old Giovanni Gioseffo dal Sole made a sketch of one of the farm workers who worked for the nobleman (fig. 1)1.

Giovanni Gioseffo dal Sole, Standing Countryman Holding a Staff, Red chalk, 291 × 210 mm. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art | Rogers Fund 1962, 62.132.5
Fig. 1. Giovanni Gioseffo dal Sole, Standing Countryman Holding a Staff, Red chalk, 291 × 210 mm. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art | Rogers Fund 1962, 62.132.5

This portrait, executed in red chalk and carefully finished, was very realistic, as noted with satisfaction by the count in a handwritten inscription on the sheet. Such precious indication has allowed, over the years, to assign to Gioseffo a small group of red chalk sketches of beggars and peasants, a fascinating and rare counterpoint to his best-known religious works.

In addition to Count Fava’s Farmer, today in New York, one should remember the Old Man with crutches (Milano, Castello Sforzesco) and the lively Shepherd with bagpipes (Prague, Narodni Galerie), whose attributes (the stick and the hat) are very close to the ones in the drawing here discussed2. These works reveal in Giovanni Gioseffo an ironic vein and a taste for the representation of rural scenes probably derived from the work of his father, the landscape painter Giovanni Antonio Maria (1606-1684)3.

This Seated Beggar, inscribed on the verso with the artist’s name, is an important addition to the small corpus of Giovanni Gioseffo’s character studies4. Compared with the aforementioned sheets, it shows a particular care in the representation of the features and expression. The cut of the image on the left would suggest a possible otherwise unknown pictorial or engraving destination.

The representation of beggars and common people is a minor but well-attested trend in 18th century Bolognese art. One can recall, for example, the series of the Arti per via, engraved in 1660 by Giuseppe Maria Mitelli and based on a group of caricature drawings by Annibale Carracci.

Coming back to our drawing, the subject and the rendering of the character could be reminiscent of the successful models of Jacques Callot’s (c. 1592 – 1635) and, in particular, of his Barons series. The immediacy of the image, however, suggests that it has been taken from life.

1 The standard reference on dal Sole is the monograph by Thiem 1990, that also builds on some previous important contributions (Lippi Bruni 1959, pp. 109-114; Colombi Ferretti 1979, pp. 127-134; Roli 1981, pp. 13-23; Lippi Bruni Taroni 1987, pp. 59-61). On the latter see also the review by Scrase 1992, pp. 257-258. On the drawings see Dreyer 1997, pp. 165-166, and Lippi Bruni Taroni 2004, pp. 60-62; among the recent contributions see Thiem 2003, pp. 33-42; Gasparotto 2005, pp. 165-175; Dari 2015, pp. 57-78.

2 Thiem 1990, pp. 196-197, nos. D20, D21, D22.

3 Thiem 1990, p. 26 and p. 26 note 18 quotes a further sketch of a Lame beggar sitting in an armchair, in red chalk, repr. in Bologna 1979, n. and fig. 2.

4 Similar inscriptions are frequent on Giovanni Gioseffo’s works on paper. Some of them are referrable to Count Fava, who owned several of them (at least 7, according to Thiem 1990, p. 23).

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