Triton Sounding a Conch Shell

Artist: Annibale Carracci (Italian, Bologna 1560–1609 Rome)

Date: ca. 1597–1602

Medium: Charcoal or soft black chalk on blue-gray paper; traces of framing outlines in pen and black ink and black chalk

Dimensions: Sheet: 15 1/4 x 9 9/16 in. (38.8 x 24.3 cm)

Classification: Drawings

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1970

Accession Number: 1970.15


In this vigorous drawing by Annibale, the repeated, undulating contours of the Triton seem an expression of his aqueous nature. This drawing is a study for one of the figures that decorate the vault of a gallery in the Farnese Palace in Rome, Annibale's most important and influential fresco cycle. Although the fresco in which this figure appears was executed by his brother Agostino, Annibale clearly was involved in its design.
Famed for reviving the art of painting at the beginning of the seventeenth century, Annibale was guided by the example of Raphael, whose work he studied assiduously. Certainly the Tritons of Raphael's Galatea in the Villa Farnesina were in his mind when he created this figure study.