A Roman academy of artists. Etching after Pier-Francesco Alberti, 16--.
- Alberti, Pietro Francesco, 1584-1638.
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About this work
This scene of an artist's academy by P. Alberti, specifically that of the Accademia di San Luca in Rome at the turn of the seventeenth century, is concerned with the education of the young artist, an object of early art academies. Several boys and youths, under the tutelage of masters, are engaged in studies that would have been taught within the academy: geometry, perspective and anatomy - the latter depicted here in the drawing of an articulated skeleton set up at the centre of the room and through an anatomical dissection. Next to the door through which a boy enters bearing a letter, a youth makes drawn studies from a cast of a leg while two others look on. There are several more casts and sculptural fragments arranged across the ledge and hung on the far wall, along with pictures of a landscape, a portrait and a crucifixion. In the left foreground, another boy offers his sheet of drawings of an eye, a standard early drawing exercise, to a master for correction. The Accademia di San Luca in Rome was founded in 1593 with the artist Federico Zuccaro (c.1540-1609) as its first president. Pierfrancesco Alberti's father, Durante, later also held in the post of president in 1598. Although there is no mention of the study of anatomy in the academy's statutes of 1593 and 1596, it is included in those of 1607: "The studies of the academy will be of design, painting, anatomy, sculpture, perspective, and of every other thing relating to the profession." (Pevsner 1940, p. 63, n. 1.) The original print is usually dated to after 1600, by which time Zuccaro had come into the possession of the painting of the 'Crucified bad thief' that appears hanging on the wall directly above the dissection scene. This is one of two fragments, now in the Royal Collection at Hampton Court, of Perino del Vaga's 'Deposition' originally in the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome. Not long after it was painted, the figures of the crucified thieves in Perino's Deposition were praised for the accurate depiction of the appearance of the nerves and muscles bearing the weight of the body in crucifixion. The Wellcome Library impression bears a dedication to Cardinal Jacopo Sannesio of Pisa and may be dated to between 1604 when he was elevated to the cardinalship and 1621, the year of his death