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Padre Resta's Rubens Drawings after Ancient Sculpture

Author(s): Giorgio Fubini and Julius S. Held


Source: Master Drawings, Vol. 2, No. 2 (Summer, 1964), pp. 123-141+185-193
Published by: Master Drawings Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1552740
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PADRE

RESTA'S

RUBENS

DRAWINGSAFTER

ANCIENT

Giorgio

Fubini

SCULPTURE

and

Julius

S. Held'

Pdre SebastianoRestais knownasoneof the mostcolorfulcollectorsof drawings


in theseventeenthcentury.Whathe lackedin knowledgeandcriticaldiscernment
he madeup in enthusiasmand an evangelist'szeal. In that enviableage when
drawingswereplentifulandcollectorsfew, he casthis netswidelyandcouldnot
catches.Variousscholars,includingMeder2
helpcomingup withsomespectacular
andPopham,3
haveshedlighton the activitiesof the garrulousPadre.One of the
albumsof drawingshe collected,preserved
in the BibliotecaAmbrosiana
in Milan,
has recentlybecomewidely accessiblein the splendidfacsimileedited by Dr.
Fubini.

Amongthe othertreasuresof thatlibraryis yet anotheralbumof drawings,


likewiseassembledby PadreRestabut hithertounnoticedby scholars.In numbers
thiscollectioncannotstandcomparison
with the largealbum,containingas it does
only nine drawings.Yetof thesenine drawingsseven are certainlyoriginalsby
Rubensandaneighthverylikelyso.The ninth(in thebookactuallythefirst)Padre
thatdrawingis but a copy
Restaalsobelievedto be by the master.Unfortunately,
afterRubens.
E 249 inf., measures748x 542 mm.
The slimvolume,bearingthe classmark
Boundin reddishbrownmorocco,bothcoversgilt-tooledwithfloralornaments
and
stampedwith the initialsPR., it consistsof twelvefolios,countingthe flyleaves.
The drawingsthemselvesarefastenedto the rectoof sevenof these,one to a page
exceptforfolios5 and6 whichhold two drawingsplacedsideby side.All of the
drawingsaresurrounded
by ruledbordersconsistinggenerallyof six blacklinesof
varyingthickness.
[123]

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JULIUS

S. HELD

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Fig. I

PADRE SEBASTIANO RESTA.

LetterAddressedto the
PaintersandArtLovers
of Milan.
Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana.

1"

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I shallbeginby brieflydescribingthe contentsin the orderof appearance.


Folio2 (rectoand verso).An introductionby PadreRestain the formof a
"AlliSignoriPittorie Virtuosidi Milano''Fig. i.
letter,addressed
Folio3. TheBrazenSerpent.AfterRubens'drawingof thesamesubjectin the
BritishMuseum(Hind No. 4) which in turn used motifsfromMichelangelo's
frescoon the SistineCeiling.Black,yellow,andwhitechalk,bistrewash,423 x 630
mm. A stripabout o00 mm. in width is pastedon at the right. Figs. 2, 3.
Folio 4. Laocoonand his Sons. After the marblegroup in the Vatican.Black
and possiblysome white chalk, 475 x 457 mm. The figure of the older son at the
right was drawn on a separatesheet and, after having been silhouetted along the
left side, was combinedwith the other two figuresin such a way that the smaller
sheet to some extent overlapsthe largerone. P1. I; Fig. 9.
Folio 5. The YoungerSon of Laocoon.Seen from the Back. Black and some
white chalk, 443 x 265 mm. P1. 2.
Laocoon, Seen from the Back. Black chalk, 440 x 283 mm. A small piece of

papercut out at the rightjust below the center.P1.3.


Folio 6. The YoungerSon of Laocoon, Seen from the Front. Black chalk,
411 X 260 mm. P1. 4.

The Hercules Farnese.After the famousmarblenow in Naples. Black chalk,


316x220

mm. Pl. 5.

Folio 7. A Fishermanin Profile,towardsthe Left ("Seneca").After the black


marblestatuein the Louvre.Blackchalk,paperirregularlycut, 460 x 320 mm. P1.6.
Folio 8. The She-Wolf with Romulusand Remus.After a marblegroupforming partof the personificationof the Tiber River in the Louvre.Blackchalk, 355 x
484 mm. For the inscription see below, p. 136. P1. 7.

Folio 9. Reclining Figure (Hercules?),Drawn from Two Slightly Different


Angles. In the sketchat the right a second,headlessfigureappearsbehind the main
figureand the grinning face of a faun emergesfrombehind his back. In the center
near the upper edge is the bust of a river god. Black chalk, 360 x 5 3 mm. P1. 8.
Resta's"letter"attachedto this collection as a kind of forewordwas written
in Rome "questodi della Festa del Padre S. Filippo Neri [May 26] 1684' An
Oratorianhimself, and residingin the Chiesa Nuova, Resta was of courseparticularlydevotedto the memoryof the founderof the orderand may have deliberately
chosen the day of this saint for an act of devotion and high educationalpurpose.
Though forcedto spend his life in Rome, he had remaineddeeply attachedto his
native Milan - "mia Patria'.'He begins by telling the painters and "Virtuosi"of
Milan that as a sign of his affection for his home town, he is donating to the
"Academiadel Disegno"an originaldrawingby Michelangelofor the frescoof the
Brazen Serpent in the Sistine Chapel.4This drawing, slightly damaged,but still
[125]

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PADRE
RUBENS

RESTA'S
DRAWINGS

Fig.2 Copyafter
PETER

PAUL

RUBENS.

The BrazenSerpent.
Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana.

in an engraving.
its age,he hadframedandreproduced
well preserved
considering
- undoubtedly
Francesco
He claimstohavereceivedit from"ilflamingo"
Duquesalievo"
of
both
Rubens
Habe'
"diletto
it
from
the
"Monsu
had
who
noy,
mysterious
andVanDyck,whomwe knowfromotherwritingsof PadreResta.5In the British
Museum'sLansdownemanuscript802 (p. 235 v?), he says of him: "QuestoHabe

a nostri
fu un Fiamingodiscepolodi Vandyckche venne ancoper la Lombardia
feroso'.6"Habe"claimedthatthe Michelangelo
drawings
giorni,fu d'Enthusiasmo
hadbeen in the possessionof PeterPaul Rubensand had been obtainedby him
afterthisartist'sdeath.
treasurewhichhe is donating
Afterexpressing
thehopethattheMichelangelo
to theAcademywillbe heldin deservedveneration
by itsmembersandmentioning
brieflytherespectpaidby Del Sartoto the MichelangeloandLeonardocartoonsin
Florence,Restagoeson to a lengthydiscussionof the album'sfirstdrawingwhich
[126]

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he admiredasan originalby Rubens.He recognizedthatRubenshadmaderather Fig. 3 PETER PAUL RUBENS.


freeuse of Michelangelo's
drawing7andhadstampedhis workwith the character
The BrazenSerpent.
of his own personality.Restaexpressesin advancehis agreementto havingthis
London, British Museum.
drawingframedandexhibitednexttoMichelangelo's
original- a suggestionwhich
the membersof the Academyevidentlydid not follow.
Restais muchbrieferin his commentson the remainingdrawings.Recognizing them as copiesfromancientstatuary,he complimentsRubensfor turning
"scholar"
beforethe worksof the ancient"masters'.'
He admitsto a certaindislike
for the drawingof the "Seneca"(P1.6), but mentionstwo otherdrawingsof the
samesubjectwhichhe hopesto acquirefromtheirpresentownerandto addto the
volume- a planwhichalsodid not materialize.
He praisesthe otherdrawingsin
the album,especiallythoseof Laocoon,as proofof Rubens'growingmasteryof a
morecontrolledItalianmanner.In thatconnectionhe listsothercopiesby Rubens
[127]

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JULIUS

S. HELD

afterCorreggio,
Polidoro,Titian,andVeronese
which,he says,he mayenclosewith
anothergift. He concludeswith the hope that the drawingsmayencouragethe
one supposes,to
youngMilanesepaintersto makethe tripto Rome,presumably,
studythe antique.
In contrastto his carefuldiscussionof the provenanceof the Michelangelo
drawing,Restaremainssilentaboutthe sourcesfromwhichhe had obtainedthe
drawingsby Rubens.In view of the closeconnectionRubensin his last Italian
fathers,it mightbe temptingto thinkthatRestahad
yearshadwith the Oratorian
foundthemrightthereon thepremisesof the ChiesaNuova.This, unfortunately,
aswe shallsee. Severalof the drawingsmusthavebeenin Antwerp
is impossible,
aroundI630,andit is hencelikelythattheywerepartof Rubens'estateandwere
sold only in the greatdispersalsale of i657.8 If so, they too may have been brought

to Italyby "Habe"- perhapssupportinghis claim(unjustified,if he was indeed


Halletof Liege;see note 6) thathe had been a pupilof Rubensand Van Dyck.
Whateverthe historyof the drawingsmayhave been, Rubens'authorship
cannotbe questionedfor the majorityof them.They are not only of a quality
of the past,but they alsohavestrong
worthyof one of the greatestdraughtsmen
hasbeengenerally
stylistictieswithsimilardrawingsforwhichRubens'authorship
recognized.Moreover,Rubens'authorshipcan be supportedby circumstantial
evidence.
The drawingon folio8 (P1.7) containsin the upperleft corneran inscription
fromRubens'ownhand.It agreesperfectlywith similarinscriptions
demonstrably
on severalearlyRubensdrawings,such as the drawingwith St. Liberalis,after
theDescentfromthe Cross,the Entombment
Pordenone,9
of Christ,andSketches
fora LastSupper.l1
Additionalevidenceof Rubens'authorship
is foundin the remarkable
collectionof copiespreserved
in the CopenhagenPrintRoom.1lManyof thesedrawings
wereidentifiedby theirmaker(WillemPanneels)ascopiesafterRubens'drawings.
A highproportion
of the Copenhagencopieswas takenfromstudiesRubenshad
madeafterclassicalsculptures.It is a happyaccidentthatamongthe drawingsin
the Milanalbumtherearefourthatservedas modelsforthe corresponding
sheets
in Copenhagen.
Thus,the twogroupssupplementeachothernicely.The Copenof theMilandrawings,whilethelatterfurnish
hagencopiessupporttheoriginality
proofof thereliabilityof theformer.
The Ambrosiana
drawings,however,facilitatealso the observationof the
differencein qualitybetweenRubens'originalsand the productsof the Copenhagen copyist.The style of the copies(Figs. 4-7; P1. 9b) is consistentlymore
of anatomyless sure.The
schematic,the shadingless subtle,the understanding
model,tendsto be ratherfinal in the
copyist,workingfroma two-dimensional
[128]

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Fig. 4 Copy after PETER


PAUL

RUBENS.

Laocoon, from the


Back.
Copenhagen,
The RoyalMuseum
of Fine Arts.

Fig. 5 Copy after PETER


PAUL

RUBENS.

Reclining Hercules.
Copenhagen,
The RoyalMuseum
of Fine Arts.

[129]

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Fig. 6 Copy after

PETER PAUL RUBENS.

Laocoon.
Copenhagen,The RoyalMuseumof Fine Arts.

Fig. 7 Copy after

PETER PAUL RUBENS.

A Fisherman.
Copenhagen,The RoyalMuseumof Fine Arts.

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outlines. In the copy of Laocoon seen from the back (Fig. 4) he neglects, for
instance, to render the first tentative lines with which Rubens sketchedthe coils

of the serpent.When he copiedthe recliningHercules(?)(Fig. 5) fromthe correspondingfigureon the lowerleft of Rubens'drawing,he relaxedthe poseand
increasedtheproportions,
makingthe figuremorelumpishandsoft.In his copyof
Laocoonwith his YoungerSon (Fig.6), he managesto transform
the noblepathos
of Rubens'Laocooninto the clumsyposturingof a near-simian
figure.
Yetit is preciselythisdrawingwhichexemplifiesthevalueof the Copenhagen
copies.It haslongbeenrecognizedthattheypermitus to roundoutourknowledge
of Rubensas draughtsman
with workslost todayin theiroriginalversions.In the
presentcase,the copycontributesin anotherway to ourknowledge.It permitsus
to statethat Rubenswas not responsiblefor the combinationof the silhouetted
figureof the olderson with the sheeton which he had drawnLaocoonand his
madehiscopy(probably
around
youngerson.When theCopenhagendraughtsman
I628-30), he evidentlyfoundonly the fatherand youngerson on the sheetfrom
left armandof theentwining
whichhe worked.Hiscopydepictspartsof Laocoon's
serpentwhichin theMilanoriginalarenowhiddenby thearmof thesuperimposed
figureof theolderson.Sinceit is unlikelythatRubensshouldhavebusiedhimself
in the lastyearsof his life with the pastingtogetherof someof his earlysketches,
the integrationof the wholeLaocoongroupby graftingthe studyof the olderson
onto the sheet containingthe othertwo figuresis probablythe workof a later
collector.I rathersuspectthatthe crudesilhouettingof the figureof the olderson
of the two sheetswas the workof none otherthan
and the ultimatecombination
PadreRestahimselfwho,accordingto Popham,"seemsto havehada predilection
for smalldrawingsand must,I am afraid,havebeen in the habitof cuttingout
singlefiguresfromlargersheets''
The survivalin Milanof no lessthanfivedrawingsafterthe Laocoon(countthe
ing drawingof theeldersonasa separateitem)is a welcomestrokeof goodluck.
Hitherto,onlyoneoriginaldrawingby Rubensafterthe Laocoonhasbeenknown.
That drawing,now preservedin the DresdenPrint Room (Fig. 8),12renders
torsoseenfromtheleftandbelow.However,astherearetwelvedrawings
Laocoon's
afterthe Laocoonamongthe Copenhagencopies,includingone of the Dresden
sheet,it waseasyto postulatethatat leasttwelveoriginaldrawingsmustoncehave
existed.13

The Milandiscoverypermitsus to enlargethat numberto fifteen,and the


threepiecesnow addedaredoublyvaluable,as theyportraythe sonsof Laocoon,
one of whomhadappearedonly in outlinein one of the Copenhagencopiesand
containsa frontalview of the
the othernot at all. The albumin the Ambrosiana
olderson andtwo beautifulsketchesof the younger,showinghim both fromthe
[131]

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PADRE

RUBENS

RE

TA'S

DRAWINGS

* '' **;St . ^ ^
;'?i:?..
*;*

*:f""

;t

-J

- *-*e
-.'iaBa^_"

. ..-*

r
'1?
?

?;?: ?

ii ,
i. ??r?
;J??
?? ?I;?'"
i;

Fig.8

PETER

PAUL

a,:

-0S^s.,s

RUBENS.

Laocoon.
Dresden,StaatlicheKunstsammlungen.

Fig.9

PETER

PAUL

RUBENS.

Laocoon (detail of P1. I).

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front(P1.4) andfromthe back(P1.2). The latteris one of the finestpiecesin the


album,distinguishedby a masterlygraspof the motionand a vibranteffect of
contre-jour.14

When Rubensdrewthe Laocoongroup,it had been restoredby sixteenth


in a mannerthatis no longer
centuryartists,especiallySansovinoandMontorsoli,
All scholarsarenow agreedthatLaocoon's
acceptedascorrect.15
rightarmwasnot
extendedupward,but bentat the elbow,the handtouchingthe backof the head.
Nor is it believedthat the rightarmof the youngerson was raised,thoughthe
gentleinwardcurveof the armas drawnby Rubensadmittedlycaptivatesus with
a melodiousbeautyall its own.
Forthe historyof the varioustransformations
of the Laocoongroup,Rubens'
interest,andarchaeologists
drawingsareof considerable
occupyingthemselveswith
the post-classical
historyof the Hellenisticgroupwill probablystudythemclosely.
Theywill noticethaton therighthandof the oldersonall the fingersweremissing
exceptforthe thumbandthe indexfinger.Moreover,on the evidenceof Rubens'
drawingsall the fingerson the righthandof the youngerson weremissing,too,
exceptfor somestumps- a puzzlingfact,sincethathandwas supposedlya relaIt is knownthatthe toesof the samefigure'srightfoot
tivelymodernrestoration.16
arelost,but is it alsoknownthatin Rubens'timethe big toe appearsstill to have
beenin place?
These and similarproblems(for instance,the positionof the olderson in
to his father)neednot concernus here.The drawings,however,also
relationship
teachus somethingaboutRubens'attitudetowardsancientsculpturein general.
than
Undoubtedly,Rubens'drawingsof the Laocoongrouparemorespectacular
any similarworkpreservedfromhis hand. Executedwith the utmostcareand
varietyof lightandshade,theyalsoconveyforcefullythe
displayingan astounding
excitementand the pathosof the subject.Choosingunexpectedand unconventionalanglesof vision,Rubenslent stirringtruthto the father'sfranticconvulsions
and the youngerson'shopelesslassitudeas he hangssuspendedin the monstrous
coils.
It is preciselythissearchforunconventional
viewswhichhelpsus to understandthe fascinationthatthe famousHellenisticsculptureheld for the Flemish
painter.Seenin the contextof ancientart,the workof the sculptorsfromRhodes
is strikinglybaroque.Yet the samepiece, comparedwith Rubens'drawings,is
almostclassicalwith its smoothflowof linesandits obviousstresson frontality.In
Rubens'drawing,the serpents'coils twist and rotatemoreexcitedly,the bodies
heave in greateragitation,the surfaceundulatesin multipliedbulges,and the
of thefluidityof a violentactionis increased.Moreover,
Rubens'figures
impression
His Laocoonhas a distinctlyFlemishquality,with a
aredifferentlyproportioned.
[133]

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PADRE
RUBENS

RESTA

DRAWINGS

JULIUS

S. HELD

heavyrumpandshortarmsandlegs,andeven the sonsarebuiltmorecompactly


thantheirancientmodels.
The resultis thatRubens'figuresarelessheroicin thegrandmannerbutmore
humanthan theirmodels.Their plight is moretouchingbecausethey are less
mannerof
idealized,andthe intimateanglesof vision,so foreignto the traditional
attention.
drawingfromthe antique,bringthemstillcloserto oursympathetic
Comparedwith the graphicfurorof the Laocoondrawings,the sketchof
Certainschematicdevices
HerculesFarnese(P1.5) is somewhatdisappointing.
like the emphasisfrequentlygivento the outlinesby an increaseof pressure,are
of someof theCopenhagen
ratherreminiscent
copies.Yetthe Milansketchis done
moresoftlythanthe drawingsattributedto Panneels;the conceptof the wholeis
of thesheetto Rubens
morecoherentandunified;forthetimebeing,anattribution
himselfseemsto me stilljustifiable.
The majesticmarbleof HerculesFarnese,long a favoriteobjectof studyfor
NorthernMannerists,had fascinatedRubensfromthe verybeginning.He renderedit in a veryearlydrawing,formerlyin the collectionof PierreDubautin
- the attribution
of
Paris.17
CountSeilern,whoquestioned-I believeincorrectly
the Dubautdrawingto Rubens,is the ownerof two studiesafterthe headof the
colossalstatue.'8The Copenhagencollectionof copiescontainstwoviewsof Herthe figureof Hercules
cules (III, 33 and 34). With appropriate
modifications,
combinations
in
Rubens'
in
various
contexts
and
work,bothin its original
appears
meaningandchangedinto St. Christopher.19
The drawingof a fisherman
(P1.6) alsooffersno surprise.The modelwasthe
famouspiece in blackmarble,believedto be an imageof Seneca.Now in the
Louvre,it wasin Rubens'timepartof the collectionof ScipioneBorghese.There
areno lessthanfivedrawingsafterthisfigurein Copenhagen,includinga copyof
the Milanpiece(Fig.7).20Moreover,severaloriginaldrawingsby Rubensof this
andonein theMorganLibrary
figureareknown,threeof whicharein Leningrad21
in New York.22

In drawingthis figureRubensmayhave triedto ennoblethe featuresof a


veryordinaryandslightlynegroidfacein accordwith the notionthatthe marble
Senecadictatinghisversesto a scribeup to themomentof his self-chosen
portrayed
death.This mayexplainthe tenseandseriousexpressionon the faceof the figure
in the Ambrosiana
drawing,an expressionwhich the Copenhagencopyistmiserablyfailedto emulate.When Rubensfinallypaintedthe Deathof Seneca(KdK
44), he used the Louvrestatuefor the bodyonly. The headhe modeledaftera
beautifulbustof whichhe owneda versionandwhichwaslikewisebelieved- alas,
- to be of Seneca.
alsomistakenly
Rubens'drawingof the RomanLupa(P1.7) is, again,of highestinterest,for
severalreasons.It is theonlyoneof theAmbrosiana
drawingswhichbearsinscrip[134]

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tions.One of these,runningalongthe loweredge,is in PadreResta'shand23and


givesthe kindof informationhe was fond of supplying:"il Bellorinella vita di
Rubensparladellasuaeruditione,e comearnavai suoistudijdi pitturaconPoesie,
e con versidi Virgilioet altriPoeti;in segnodi che si osservinali sudtiversidi
de la luparomana'.'
Virgiliodalui qui trascritti,
The otherinscriptionis fromRubens'own hand as PadreRestacorrectly
recognized.Rubensquoteshere the lines fromVirgil'sAeneid (xiii, 630-34)in
whichthepoetdescribes
preciselythesubjectof thedrawingaspartof theprophetic
decorations
Vulcanhadappliedto Aeneas'shield.
"feceratet viridifetamMavortisin antro
Procubuisse
lupamgeminoshuicuberacircum
LuderependentispuerosEt lamberematrem
Impavidos,illamteretiCervicereflexa
Mulcerealternoset Corporafingerelingua'.24
Rubens'modelwasnot the celebrated
bronzeof the standingshe-wolf,or any
of itsderivatives,
buttherenderingof the themethatformspartof thelargemarble
groupof the Tiber(Louvre,Fig. Io). In Rubens'time the Tiberwas one of the
famousantiquitiesin the VaticanBelvedere.That Rubenshad knownthis work
hadbeenevidentfromthe paintingin the CapitolineGallery(Fig. I I) thoughto
the bestof my knowledge,this has neverbeen specificallystated.25
The drawing
in Milan clearlyformedthe basisfor the painting;a comparisonpermitsus to
observeRubens'attitudetowardhis sourcesin a particularly
instructiveexample.
As the drawingshows,andanyexamination
of the ancientsculpturein Paris
confirms,the groupof the Lupawas sadlymutilated.The she-wolfhad lost its
snoutandears;bothchildrenwerewithoutheads;eachhadlostone armandone
of themlargeportionsof his legsas well. (All thesepartshavenow beenrestored,
but the linesof the oldbreaksareclearlyvisible.)Rubensdrewthe groupin great
detail,in whatwe maycall a frontalview (whichshowsthe Lupafromher left
side);he alsosketchedthe headof the animala secondtime,renderingit morede
face.Insteadof indicating,however,the formof the rivergod behindthis group,
of tallreedgrasses,a themehe developedmore
Rubenssetit againsta background
fullyin thesettingof the Capitolinepainting.26
The positionof the she-wolfin the paintingfollowsfairlycloselythatof the
ancientmarble.The differences
lie mainlyin theleftpaw,whichis lesssharplybent
andthe hind legs,whicharemorecomfortably
stretchedout. Yetprebackwards,
ciselyas Rubenshadspecifiedin his famousfragmentDe ImitationeStatuarum27
that the painter,adoptingclassicalfiguresoughtto translatemarbleinto human
fleshwith all its coloristicsubtleties,so herehe changedthe rathershort-cropped
animalof the Romansculptureintoone coveredwith ampleandsoft fur.Enrichthe plasticprototypewith observations
from
ing, ashe didalsoin otherinstances28
[135]

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PADRE
RUBENS

RESTA'S
DRAWINGS

JULIUS

S.

HELD

Fig. 10 The She-Wolfwith


Romulusand Remus
(detailof "TheTiber").
Paris,Louvre.

".
.
'

.i

nature, Rubens endowed his model with the immediacyof life and in doing so
absorbedhis borrowingscompletelyinto the elan vital of his art.
Nor did he follow the ancient marblein the arrangementof the children. He
used both of them in almostidentical poses, but in reverse,and they have traded
places,as it were. Thus the one sitting up is furtherfrom the watchful head of the
animal, while the one reclining and suckling is nearer to it. The reason for this
change is obvious. Since Rubens made the center of interest what in the Tiber
grouphad been only a marginalelement, he felt the need of creatinga composition
in which the elements were neatly balanced.Indeed, the group of the Lupa with
Romulusand Remusin the Capitolinepaintingformspartof a grandcompositional
curve from the rivergod at the left to the astonishedfarmerapproachingfrom the
right.
However, there is probablystill anotherreasonfor this change. Virgil's text
which Rubens had inscribedon his drawing specificallydescribesthe animal as
"lickingthe children into shape'' In the Louvre marble and in Rubens' drawing
basedon it, the childrenareplacedtoo farfromthe animal'shead to serveas a literal
illustrationof these words.By the ingeniouslysimple device of reversingthe order
of the children,Rubenseliminatedthis interval.Nor did he omit the licking tongue
of the wolf, a detail not consideredby the later, and less erudite, restorerof the
Louvregroup.29
Analogy with the previousdrawingsand internalevidence both suggest that
the last drawing,too, was done from a classicalsculpture(P1.8). The main figure,
an elderlybut athletic man, in a reclining position,was drawn twice from slightly
differentangles. He probablyheld a drinkingvessel in his right hand. A younger
companionlying behind him supportsthe older man's right wrist, while placing
his left hand familiarlyon his partner'sshoulder.Both figuresare drapedwith or
rest on animalskins, in one case surelya lion's.
[136]

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........

:(i~i!:,

?l

.7Pr~i~ '

PADRE
RUBENS

:f

'"
[?~'
*~A

',.:,d,Z ,~

:!''7

:Ij

~q

Fig. I1

RESTA

DRAWINGS

PETER

PAUL

RUBENS.

The She-Wolfwith

RomulusandRemus

:'__,:,...,
,

I have been unable


Despite the generousassistanceof severalarchaeologists,30
to identify Rubens'models. Not even a searchin early engravedbooks of ancient
sculptureand in the variousdrawnrecordsof classicalremainsyielded any tangible
results. The river god in the upper center resemblesone of the two famous river
gods on the Capitol, though there are a few discrepancies.

It is fairly certain,however, that the main group depicted the drunken Hercules. Both the vigorousbuild of the man and the large lion's paw of the skin on
which he reclinesarguein favorof this theory.The theme is one frequentlytreated
in ancient art.3' The companiondrapedwith the skin of a much smaller animal
(leopard?)was probablya satyr.The Bacchicassociationsof the scene arereinforced
by the faun'shead peeping out frombehind "Hercules'.'
Whatever the model, it was probablya piece of some prominence. Rubens
normally did not go out of his way to study obscure objects. Moreover,though
damaged, it was obviously a work of considerableartistic merit. One wonders
whether it might not also have influencedsome of Michelangelo'sreclining figures
such as thoseof the Medici tombs,especiallyEvening and Night, or even Raphael's
rivergod in the Judgmentof Paris,engravedby MarcantonioRaimondi.
An echo of this figureis found in Rubens'paintingsof Lot and his Daughters
(KdK 40) and the Birth of Marie de Medicis (KdK 244). The grinning faun's mask

resembles,amongothers,the satyrin the upperrightof the paintingNature Attired


by the Three Graces(KdK6 ) and the similarfigurein the Drunken Silenus.2 In
his forewordPadreResta spokeof this sheet rathervaguely as "li fiumio' although
only one figurewas actually taken from a rivergod. The fact that even Resta was
vague about Rubens'prototypecould mean that by 1684 the model was no longer
commonlyknown. We may perhapsdiscoverit one day in an out-of-the-wayplace,
unless it has actuallybeen destroyed.For the professionalarchaeologistthis sheet
should thereforebe of the highest interest.
[137]

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(detail).

Stylistically,Rubens'drawingsat the Ambrosianarepresenta ratherclose-knit

JULI US S. HELD

forthe problemof datingthem.In theirdiscussionof


group.This is of importance
theLaocoondrawingin Dresden,Burchard
andD'Hulstavoidedtheissueof a date.
VictorH. Miesel33alonehas assignedan approximate
and, I feel, correctdateto
thatwork.
cannotbe doubtedthatRubensmadethesecopiesof ancientsculpturein
;sW~~i
..It
Rome in front of the originals.He was there in 1602-03 and again, with interrup_ .
tions,
. fromat leastNovember,1605, until his departurein October,i608. It is
likelythathe studiedancientmonumentswheneverhe had the time and opporsuchdrawingsas thosein the Ambrosiana
couldhave
tunity.Thus theoretically
been
done
his
first
as
well
as
his
second
Roman
I
If
Mieselin
follow
during
period.
:
^m^^^:^l^^
,: ^
theDresdenLaocoonandbyimplication
all theAmbrosiana
H
drawingsin the
I;; ;
~~~dating
'|^ j^
laterRomanyears,I do it for severalreasons.First,we notice amongRubens'
_ t L _l
andlessplasticthan
drawingsof classicalsculpturesa groupthatis lessself-assured
^*
i^
the Milan-Dresden
them
are
the
sheet
group.Among
Chicago
jokinglyidentifying
a
from
as
"Socrates"
and
the copy of the
_..7::
~:
figures
sarcophagus
"Xantippe'34
~two
~:'::
~
the DubautHerculesmentionedbefore,andpossiblythe draw~'~Belvedere
:*::
_
w
2
torso,35
of Marsand Venusin Leningrad.36
If thesedrawingsare datedin the early
;;:::::::ing
r
::,0
Romanperiod,we arepractically
forcedto placethe Milan-Dresden
groupin the
;/m*~
:'.l]e ^second.
Consideringthattowardsthe end of his ItalianperiodRubens'artmoved
^
andpassionate
towardsa dramatic
style,culminatingin his paintingsof circaI608I2, a dateof 1606-08for thesedrawings
wouldseemto be the mostappropriate.
* 05
Sucha datecan perhapsbe supportedby an observation
madeby one of my
Fk
0
*:('. *
..
.students,GaryGoldberg.Assignedthe problemof determiningpreciselywhich
versionof the classicalrecliningHermaphrodite
Rubenscopiedin the drawingin
: "
! i 'the
WalterC. Bakercollection,Goldbergestablishedthatit musthave been the
'tt ,_^|~
piecewhichin the seventeenthcenturywasin the collectionof ScipioneBorghese
,!.si11 ;f
It wasfoundin I608 whenthe excavations
weremade
*3i \and is nowin theLouvre.37
fortheChurchof SantaMariadellaVittoria.38
Rubens'drawinghencecannothave
Fig.12 Silenus.
Dresden,
StaatlicheKunstsammlungen.

been done before I608 and probablydates precisely from that year. As the only
the Baker
drawingof thiskindforwhicha terminuspost quem can be established,

sheetassumesa keypositionin the chronologyof Rubens'drawingsafterthe angroupprotique.It lendsadditionalsupportto the datingof the Milan-Dresden
posed here.39
1. The drawingspublishedhere were discoveredand identifiedin 1955 by Dr. Giorgio

at the Ambrosiana.
In recognition
of thisdiscovery
and
fordrawings
Fubini,consultant
the fact that he suppliedsome generalinformationand the photographsof the album,
the presentarticleappearsunderboth Dr. Fubini'sand my name. This is done with the
agreementof Dr. Fubini and of the Prefectof the Ambrosiana,MonsignoreCarloCastiglioni. However,I must take full responsibilityfor the text since Dr. Fubini left me
completelibertyto deal with the scholarlyaspectsof the problem.I shouldlike to thank

[138]

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Mr. K. G. Boon for having first drawn my attention to this group of works, and Dr. ! 0.
Kristeller and Dr. Sheila Edmunds for having provided me with some pertinent informa-

tion beforeI had the opportunityto examinethe originalsmyself.J. S. H.


2. Joseph Meder, Die Handzeichnung, Vienna,

I923,

pp. 647, 654.

3. A. E. Popham,"SebastianoRestaand his Collections'Old MasterDrawings,xi, 1936,


p. I f.
4. Dr. Fubiniinformsme that no such drawingis knownin the BibliotecaAmbrosiana,nor
doeshe know an engravinglike the one mentionedby PadreResta.
5. See Popham, loc. cit., p. 14.

6. The Lansdownemanuscriptsarecopiesmadeby the Richardsonsof PadreResta'soriginal


writings.In Lansdowne803, page 36 and againpage 85 v? Restagives the dateof Habe's
birthas 1599, transferring,I suspect,with his usual carelessnessthe date of Van Dyck's
birthto his pupil. No "Habe"is knownfromconventionalsources.Pophamhazardedthe
guess that he was HendrickAbbe, a painterinscribedin I676 in the guild in Brussels.
This identificationis most unlikely, since Abbe was born in I639 and hence could not
have been a pupil of eitherRubensor Van Dyck. Nor is he known to have visitedItaly.
A morelikely candidate,I believe,is Gilles Hallet, bornin Liege in 1620, who executed
a numberof frescoesin Rome(especiallyin S. Mariadell'Anima)and died therein 1694.
See Thieme-Becker, xv, p. 522, and Leo van Puyvelde, La Peinture Flamande a Rome,
Brussels, 1950, pp. 124-I26. In Rome he was known as Monsu Ale Liegese.

7. The London drawing,indeed, is ingeniouslymade up of differentMichelangelesque


figuresin new combinations.
8. See Julius S. Held, Rubens, Selected Drawings, London, 1959, p. I6.
9. Gustav Gliick and Franz Martin Haberditzl, Die Handzeichnungen von Peter Paul
Rubens, Berlin, 1928, no. i.

10. Held, op. cit., nos. 3, 4, and 7. I owe Dr. Miiller Hofstedethe informationthat the in
scriptionon the Entombmentin Rotterdam(Held, no. 4), examinedin ultra-violetlight,
has been found to read:"focushic ad miscendumet mirramet aloen'
11. See G. Falck, "En Rubenselevs Tegninger' Kunstmuseets Aarskrift, 9I 8, p. 64, and
Held, op. cit., pp. 13 and 48-5I.
12. See L. Burchard and R.-A. d'Hulst, Rubens Drawings, Brussels, I963, no. 15, p. 32:

"The only originalstudyby Rubensafter the Laocoongroupso far known' In Heemskerck'sfamous sketchbookin Berlin there is a view of Laocoonfrom the same angle
(Christian Hiilsen and Hermann Egger, Die Romischen Skizzenbiicher von Marten van
Heemskerck, Berlin, 1913, I, f. 39 recto), but this is probably sheer coincidence.
13. See Held, op. cit., p. 5 .

14. In the light of the drawings,the theoryexpressedby Burchardand D'Hulst (op. cit.,
p. 33) that Rubens may have made his drawingsof Laocoonfrom a plastercast must
be rejected.
15. See A. Brandi,"LaFortunadel Laocoontedallasua scopertanelle termedi Tito' Rivista
dell' Instituto Nazionale d'Archeologia e Storia dell'Arte, n.s. II, I954, p. 78, and
Filippo Magi, "I1 Ripristino del Laocoonte' Atti della Pontifica Accademia Romana di
Archeologia, II, 1960.

[139]

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PADRE
RUBENS

RE STA'S
DRAWI

NGS

JULI

U S S. H E L D

16. With minorchangesthis is also the conditionshown in Jan de Bisschop's(Episcopius)


prints,see Signorumveterumicones,The Hague, I669, pls. 16-17.
17. See Rubens-Tentoonstelling,
Amsterdam,1933, no. 94.
18. See FlemishPaintings& Drawingsat 56 PrincesGate,London, I955, p. 85, no. 53.
19. See L. Burchardin Catalogueof the RubensExhibitionat Wildenstein's,London,1950,
nos. 8 and 9, and Held, op. cit., pp. I I3-I4, no. 48.
20. Two of them have interestinginscriptions:"het princepaelvan dese figuer hebbe ick
gehaeltvantcantoorende dit is Ceneca"(III, 28); "Ditis oockcenecadi ick het princepael
vant cantoorhebbegehaeltdesenis heel goet"(IIn,30).
21. See Gliick-Haberditzl,
op. cit., no. 26, and M. Dobroklonski,RisunkiRubensa,Moscow,
One
of
the
I940.
Leningraddrawingswas offeredfor sale in Leipzig,April 29, I931
(see H. F Boucheryand E van den Wijngaert,P. P. Rubensen het PlantijnscheHuis,
Antwerp,I94I, p. 78, note 2) but was apparentlynot sold. PadreRestamay have been
thinkingof two of these drawingswhen he said in his introductionthat he knew of two
otherdrawingsby Rubensafterthis figurewhich had fallen into otherhandsbut which
he hoped to be able to acquirelater. Given his generalenthusiasmfor drawings,it is
interestingto note thathe did not particularlycarefor this piece.
22. See Jan-AlbertGorisandJuliusS. Held, Rubensin America,New York,1947, no.A I00.
Contraryto the view expressedthere, I now believe that the drawingis entirely by
Rubens'hand.It wasmadefor the engravingby C. Galle,publishedin L. AnnaeiSenecae
PhilosophiOperaquae exstantomnia,ed. I. Lipsius,Antwerp, 1615, (2nd ed., I632).
The Milan drawing,curiouslyenough, must have been known to F M. Haberditzl.In
the collectionof photoswhich this authoracquiredfromhis widow, therewas one of the
AmbrosianaSeneca, takenby CesareSartorettiof Milan. No furtherinformation,however,was found on it. Haberditzlapparentlyneverfollowedup this trail.
23. His mannerof "hugging"the marginis also seen in an albumrecentlyacquiredby the
MorganLibrary.
24. "He had fashioned,too, the she-wolfoutstretchedin the greencave of Mars;aroundher
teatsthe twin boyshung playing,and mouthedtheirfoster-mother
withoutfear;she with
sleek neck bent back, licked them by turns and shaped their bodies with her tongue'
25. See F FreiherrGoelervon Ravensburg,Rubensund die Antike,Jena, I 882, p. 171.
26. The landscapein the Capitolinepicture, as Oldenbourgsuggested,may have been
paintedby Jan Wildens.
27. See Goeler von Ravensburg, op. cit., p. 195.

28. See for instancethe case of the Amsterdamand Londondrawingsof a lioness (M. Jaffe,
"Rubensen de Leeuwenkuil'Bulletinvan het Rijksmuseum,Amsterdam,I955, no. 3)
whereRubensderivedthe movementfroma Paduanbronzebut successfullycamouflaged
his borrowingwith naturalisticdetailbasedon his observationof live animals.
29. Anothervariantof the groupis renderedon the title-page,designedby Rubens,of Jacob
Biaeus, Numismata ImperatorumRomanorum,Antwerp, 1617, and used again for
LudovicusNonnius, Commentariusin Nomismata,Imp. Iulii, Augustiet Tiberii, Antwerp, I644.

[140]

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30. I am indebtedto ProfessorsBieber,Brendel,Harrison,and von Blanckenhagen,as well as


Dr. Phyllis Pray Bober and Dr. Andrew Oliver for assisting me in this search. Dr. Oliver

pointedout to me that the largefigureof Herculesin reposein the Museo Chiaramonti


(no. 733) may originally- before the later restorations- have looked more like the
presumedmodel of Rubens,but there remaintoo many discrepanciesbetween the two
worksfor the Romanfigureto have actuallyservedas that model.
31. See, amongothers,E. Lbwy,"ScopaMinoreed il simulacrodi ErcoleOlivario'Romische
Mittheilungen, 1897, pp. 56 ff. and pp. 144 ff.
32. See H. G. Evers, Rubens und sein Werk, Neue Forschungen, Brussels, 1943, fig. 256.

33. VictorH. Miesel,"Rubens'StudyDrawingsafterAncientSculpture;'Gazettedes BeauxArts, 1963, . 3 1.

34. See Held, op. cit., no. I60, pl. 169.


35. See Rubens-Tentoonstelling, Amsterdam, 1933, no. 93.

36. See Burchard-d'Hulst,


op. cit., fig. I3. I cannotsharethe doubtsaboutthe authenticity
of this piece, expressed by Miesel (loc. cit., p. 319).

37. Hithertoit had been assumedthat the Hermaphroditenow preservedin the Uffizi had
been Rubens' model; see Drawings & Oil Sketches by P P. Rubens from American Col-

lections,Exhibition,FoggArt Museumand PierpontMorganLibrary,1956, no. I, pl. II,


and Claus Virch, Master Drawings in the Collection of Walter C. Baker, New York,
1962, no. 43.
38. See M. Armellini, Le Chiese di Roma dal Secolo IV al XIX, Rome, 1942, pp. 333 and
1383, and U. Donati, Carlo Maderna, Lugano, 1957, p. 48.

39. Clearlyconnectedwith the groupof drawingspublishedhere is anotherone, familiarto


specialistsbut curiouslyenough never beforereproduceddespiteits prominentplace of
preservation. This is a sheet in the British Museum (Hind,

II,

1923, no. 5 ; black chalk,

41 3 x 262 mm.),reproducingSilenusleaningagainsta tree(P1.9a). Two ancientmarbles


have been preservedrepresentingthis type, one in the Munich Glyptothek,the otheralreadymentionedin this context,thoughonly tentatively,by Hind - in the Staatliche
Dresden.I owe Dr. M. Raumschussel,the Directorof the Dresden
Kunstsammlungen,
a photo of that piece, taken from about the same angle as the
Skulpturensammlung,
Rubensdrawing,and thereseemsto be little reasonto doubtthat this was indeedRubens'
model (Fig. I2). The figurecame to Dresdenin I728 with the collectionof antiquities
of PrinceAgostinoChigi of Rome;from the evidenceof Rubens'drawingwe can now
statethatit musthavebeen in Romeas earlyas the beginningof the seventeenthcentury.
havebeen removed;they includethe legs frombelow the knees,
Todayall old restorations
and the tree-trunk,still visiblein ourphoto.When Rubensdrewit, the left handevidently
had also been restored.As he did in othercases, Rubensrenderedthe figuresomewhat
morebroadlyand with moreswellingcontoursbut essentiallyfaithfullyeven to detailsof
hairand beard.
The LondonSilenus,too,was copiedby one of the artistsof the Copenhagencopies.
It is a piece of exceptionalquality (P1. gb). An attentivecomparisonundoubtedlyconfirms the superiorityof the London sheet but the similarityof the two drawingsis
uncomfortablyclose. The case is instructiveand ought to serveas a warning.I, for one,
am not sure that I might not have been willing to defend the originalityof the Copenhagen drawingif it had been the only one preserved.
[141]

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PA D R E RE s TA'S
RUBENS

DRAWINGS

r:,?;;
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PlateI

PETER PAUL RUBENS.

Laocoonand his Sons.

Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana.

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Plate2
PETER PAUL RUBENS.
The Younger Son of
Laocoon, from the Back.
Milan, BibliotecaAmbrosiana.

Plate3
PETER PAUL RUBENS.
Laocoon, from the Back.
Milan, BibliotecaAmbrosiana.

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