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Milan 1723-1783 Milan

A Young Shepherd Eating

A Young Shepherd Eating

Inscribed on the, verso, Francesco Londonio (1723-82), and

Bozzeto (?)

Black chalk heightened with white

12 ¾ x 10 inches

323 x 254 mm


Ludwig Pollak (1868-1943), Rome (Lugt 788b)

Giancarlo Baroni (1926-2007), Florence (his sale: New York, Sotheby’s, 30 January 2013, lot 141)

Private collection

Drawn circa 1760

This lively drawing of a young shepherd eating while resting on a large rock is typical of Francesco Londonio’s portrayals of everyday subjects and may have been executed as an independent drawing or in preparation for a print. In technique and subject matter, it is comparable to a number of studies by the artist, such as that of a Peasant Woman Holding a Basket of Chickens, at the National Gallery of Art, Washington,¹ or a sheet with two studies for an Old Shepherd, at the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge.² A similar looking boy, possibly a bit younger and perhaps Londonio’s own son, appears in a drawing comparable in size and execution, signed and dated 1760 (fig. X).³  A similar model also appears in the first state of an etching by Londonio, Seated Shepherd Boy with a Sheep, signed and dated 1758,⁴ suggesting a date of circa 1760 for our drawing.

Londonio trained with the Milanese painters Ferdinando Porta (1689–1767) and Giovanni Battista Sassi (1679–1762) and with the engraver Benigno Bossi (1727–1792). Initially a painter of history subjects, Londonio is best known as a painter and engraver of genre subjects,⁵ most often showing rustic peasant figures in landscapes, usually accompanied by domesticated farm animals such as goats, sheep, and cows, much in the manner of Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (1609-1664) and Rosa da Tivoli (1655-1706).  The Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan conserves 247 drawings by the artist, by far the greatest part of his known oeuvre.  Other sheets can be found in the British Museum, the Morgan Library, the Fogg Art Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Ashmolean, and the Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt.

The present sheet comes from the collection of Ludwig Pollak, a classical archaeologist and art historian. After receiving his doctorate in Vienna in 1893, he moved to Rome where he lived for the rest of his life.  He travelled to Greece, Egypt, Syria, and Asia Minor for his work, and published catalogues on the collections of Nedilow (1903), J. von Kopf (1905), Baracco (1911), Strogonoff (1912), and Barsanti (1922).  His own collection comprised around 3,000 drawings, dating from the fifteenth through the nineteenth centuries, mostly Italian, though also including some examples by French and Dutch artists.  His collector’s mark, lower right, reproduces a statue of Minerva in the Liebighaus collection (now a museum of ancient, Medieval, and Renaissance sculpture), Frankfurt, itself a copy of a famous sculpture by the fifth-century BC Greek sculptor, Myron, which Pollak had published.

  1. Inv. 1985.1.39; charcoal with white chalk and gray wash on gray paper, 253 x 276 mm.

  2. Inv. 1964.83; black chalk and white gouache on faded blue paper, 246 x 335 mm.

  3. Black chalk heightened with white gouache, 255 x 330 mm; Master Drawings, 1530-1920, exhibition catalogue, W. M. Brady & Co., New York, January 24 – February 3, 2012, cat. no. 18, illustrated.

  4. M. Scola, Catalogo ragionato delle incisioni di Francesco Londonio, Milan, 1994, pp. 18-19, cat. no. 5, illustrated p. 19.

  5. Between 1758 and 1764, Londonio engraved, or had engraved, a large number of prints of his pastoral subjects; see M. Scola, Catalogo ragionato della incisione di Francesco Londonio, Milan, 1994.

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