Drawing, Design for the Base of the Silver Crucifix for the High Altar of Saint Peter's, Rome, Italy
This is a drawing. It was attributed to Carlo Spagna and after Antonio Gentilili da Faenza. It is dated 1670–72 and we acquired it in 1938. Its medium is pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, black chalk on off-white laid paper; verso: black chalk. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.
In 1671, the papal nephew Cardinal Francesco Barberini commissioned Carlo Spagna to create four candlesticks for the high altar of Saint Peter's, Rome. These were designed to coordinate with an existing cross and pair of candlesticks made in 1578 by Antonio Gentili, from silver that once composed Charlemagne’s cross. Expansion of the altar garniture was necessary to increase its visibility beneath the showy new baldacchino that Bernini had designed for the high altar. Spagna made this drawing to familiarize himself with the appearance and structure of Gentili’s design. He raised the crucifix by inserting two bands of ornament featuring the heraldic Barberini bees. His candlestick designs closely follow the Gentili silhouette, including sensually straining figures inspired by Michelangelo Buonarroti’s sculptures of slaves. Today, the entire group of seven objects is normally found in the Vatican Treasury and are used only on rare occasions.
It is credited
Museum purchase through gift of various donors and from Eleanor G. Hewitt Fund.
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Its dimensions are
49.2 x 33 cm (19 3/8 x 13 in.)
It has the following markings
Stamp in brown ink, verso lower right: Cooper Union Museum for the Arts of Decoration, Lugt 457e.
It is inscribed
Inscribed in pen and brown ink, lower right verso: 8
Cite this object as
Drawing, Design for the Base of the Silver Crucifix for the High Altar of Saint Peter's, Rome, Italy; Attributed to Carlo Spagna (Italian, ca. 1641 - 1680); After Antonio Gentilili da Faenza (Italian, 1519 – 1609); Italy; pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, black chalk on off-white laid paper; verso: black chalk; 49.2 x 33 cm (19 3/8 x 13 in.); Museum purchase through gift of various donors and from Eleanor G. Hewitt Fund; 1938-88-6982
This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Hewitt Sisters Collect.