The drawing is preparatory for the altarpiece l’Immacolata Concezione con S. Francesco e S. Chiara painted in Rome at S. Margherita in Trastevere c.1685. Under the patronage of Donna Giulia Colonna, the church of S. Margherita was completely rebuilt in 1564 and assigned to the neighboring Franciscan Friars. It was precisely for the Franciscan order that Baciccio painted the Immaculate Conception, depicting St. Francis and St. Clare, founders of the Order. We know a document dated July 27, 1680, which certifies the reopening of the Church and its sumptuous decoration desired by the generosity of Cardinal Gastaldi.
According to the information given by Pascoli, Vite de 'pittori (I, 1730, p. 202), the work would be dated to c. 1685. We know a second preparatory drawing at Windsor Castle, Royal Library. See Robert Enggass, The Painting of Baciccio, Giovanni Battista Gaulli 1639-1709, the Pennsylvania University Press, 1964. The attribution of our drawing to Baciccio was kindly confirmed by R. Enggass.
Pen and brown ink, traces of black chalk, on blue prepared paper. Traces of grid lines in black chalk. 267 x 199 mm.
Alessandro Maggiori (Lugt 3005b), inscribed by Maggiori in pen at lower right Il Gaulli fece. and at the verso Aless. Maggiori acquistò in Roma nel 1809. Inscribed at the upper left corner on recto 15.
Yvonne Tan Bunzl, see her catalogue Old Master Drawings, 1984, cat. no. 34.
Giovanni Battista Gaulli began his artistic experience in Genoa, where he met the works of Rubens and Anton van Dyck, of whom he appreciated the colors and the softness of the painting. He attended the workshop of Andrea Borzone to settle later, from 1657, in Rome.
He became one of the most appreciated collaborators of Gian Lorenzo Bernini who proposed it for the decoration of the pendentives of the dome of Sant'Agnese in Agone and introduced it into the environment of the Jesuits, obtaining for him the commission for the decoration of the Church of Jesus. He frescoed the vault in which he painted the 'Triumph of the Name of Jesus', the presbytery and the chapel of St. Ignatius (1674-1679).
The frescoes of the vault, for their excellence, are considered the pictorial parallel of the altar by Bernini of the Chair in St. Peter's Basilica. Bernini also proposed it for the altarpieces in Sant’Andrea al Quirinale and San Francesco a Ripa where the influence and the baroque taste of the great sculptor is evident.
In 1707 he frescoed the vault of the Basilica of the Holy Apostles with the Triumph of the Franciscan Order and dedicated himself to making cartoons for the mosaics in the baptismal chapel of St. Peter's Basilica.
He also worked in other famous churches including San Rocco in Augusteo, Santa Marta, Santa Maria Maddalena, at Palazzo Chigi and of course in Genoa.
He was an excellent portraitist among the portrayed Clemente IX and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.