Artist: Pietro da Cortona (Pietro Berrettini) (Italian, Cortona 1596–1669 Rome)
Date: ca. 1630
Medium: Brush and gray wash, touches of pen and brown ink, over traces of black chalk, with an illusionistic frame drawn in yellow and brown wash
Dimensions: Sheet: 14 9/16 x 19 5/16 in. (37 x 49 cm)
Credit Line: Purchase, 2002 Benefit Fund, 2003
Accession Number: 2003.101
This major drawing was discovered and recognized as a work by Pietro da Cortona, one of the most innovative landscapists of Baroque art, about ten years ago, when it was in a private collection. Judging by the degree of finish and virtuoso technique, it probably was a presentation piece for a patron. It was executed almost entirely with the tip of the brush to obtain delicate pictorial effects of light (for example, the rays emanating from between the clouds and the highlights on the bark of the trees) and an atmospheric conception of space. The idyllic, classically inspired scene shows ancient ruins, distant views of towns and farmhouses, and farm laborers actively toiling in the production of a wine harvest in the foreground. The true protagonists of the composition, however, are the monumental forms of the robust vegetation. The scene refers to the bounties of autumn and in general relates to painting cycles in fresco and canvas done by Cortona about this time to decorate the interiors of villas and palazzi in the countryside around Rome. The work compares closely to several similarly large landscape drawings by the artist, all datable to about 1628–30, today in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh; Musée Fabre, Montpellier; and Royal Library, Windsor.