Study for a Sculpture of Neptune by Gaetano Gandolfi


A beautiful red chalk drawing by the main Bolognese master of the 18th century.

Study for a Sculpture of Neptune by Gaetano Gandolfi

Gaetano Gandolfi

San Matteo della Decima 1734 – Bologne 1802

Study for a Sculpture of Neptune

Inscribed Gaetano Gandolfi on the verso. Old numbering 313/31 and 11 in a circle on the verso.

Red chalk.

247 x 174 mm – 9 ½ x 6 ½ in.

During his training at the Bolognese Accademia Clementina, not only did Gaetano Gandolfi study drawing, but also sculpture, which helped him in his designs for palace decorations in which he liked to draw sculptures in trompe-l’oeil, sometimes in niches or da sotto in su. They decorated and gave rhythm to the walls of galleries or grand halls, as is the case, for example, with Palazzo Malvasia, Palazzo Odorico, or else Palazzo Gnudi Scagliarini. 

It should also be recalled that Gaetano tried his hand at sculpture early in his career. Donatella Biagi Maino reconstructed a group of terra-cottas illustrating this marginal part of his production, to which our drawing can well be connected (Donatella Biagi Maino, Gaetano e Ubaldo Gandolfi, opere scelte, Cento 2002, fig. 1 et 2; Sotheby’s, 22 June 1978, lot 406).  

Thus, this delightful red chalk drawing of Neptune may have been done for its own sake or, alternatively, in preparation for a sculpture or a decorative scheme, such as a sculpted figure painted in trompe l’oeil for instance. By its sculptural theme and vibrant draughtsmanship, this drawing also demonstrates the influence of Giambattista Tiepolo on Gandolfi’s work.

Condition reports – Very good overall condition. Thin and fragile paper, torn in lower corners, laid down on Japan paper. Minor fillings.