Saint Celestine V Renouncing the Papacy, after Mattia Preti

Artist: Jean Honoré Fragonard (French, Grasse 1732–1806 Paris)

Artist: After Mattia Preti (Il Cavalier Calabrese) (Italian, Taverna 1613–1699 Valletta)

Date: 1761

Medium: Black chalk, over a black chalk counterproof

Dimensions: 7 11/16 x 7 5/8 in. (19.5 x 19.3 cm.)

Classification: Drawings

Credit Line: Gift of Dr. and Mrs. John C. Weber, 1987

Accession Number: 1987.239


In March 1761, just before returning to Paris from a five-year stint as a pensioner at the French Academy in Rome, Fragonard was sent to Naples by his friend and patron, Jean-Claude-Richard, the abbé de Saint-Non (1727–1791), to make copies after works of art. He made at least five copies after sections of Mattia Preti's ceiling in the Church of San Pietro a Maiella. One of Preti's major commissions, the ceiling depicted scenes from the lives of Saint Catherine and Saint Celestine V, set into various shaped stucco frames. This sheet is a counterproof, and therefore in reverse direction, of Fragonard's copy (Norton Simon Foundation, Pasadena), reworked by the artist in black chalk.