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Lunette Design with an Allegory of Winter

Paolo Gerolamo Piola, Italian, 1666 - 1724

c. 1688

Brush and brown ink and brown wash with black chalk, heightened with white opaque watercolor, on laid paper toned with brown wash, mounted on paperboard

Sheet: 11 1/8 x 15 13/16 inches (28.3 x 40.2 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
The Muriel and Philip Berman Gift, acquired from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts with funds contributed by Muriel and Philip Berman and the Edgar Viguers Seeler Fund (by exchange), 1984

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Paolo Girolamo Piola was trained by his artist father, Domenico Piola, in Genoa, and the family studio produced secular and religious paintings in that city for decades. This impressive drawing is a study for a lunette-shaped decoration in the corner of a ceiling in a Brignole family palace, Palazzo Rosso, that now houses one of Genoa's principal art museums.

Additional information:
  • PublicationItalian Master Drawings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

    The drawing was identified by Walter Vitzthum (in Regina and Montreal 1970, no. 64) as a preparatory study for the corner lunette in a ceiling decoration, Allegory of Winter, in the Palazzo Rosso in Genoa. The commission had been awarded to Paolo Gerolamo’s father, Domenico Piola, and his payment for it in 1688 is documented. The palace was built between 1671 and 1677 for the Brignole family, but Paolo Gerolamo’s contribution to the decoration would have occurred after 1685, when he returned to Genoa after a two-year stay in other cities. A study for the central panel is in the Casa Piola in Genoa (Malagoli, Eloisa. “The Drawings of Casa Piola.” The Burlington Magazine, vol. 108, no. 763 {October 1966} p. 507, fig. 25). The present drawing was published by both Vitzthum (in Regina and Montreal 1970, no. 64) and Mary Newcome (in Binghamton and Worcester 1972, no. 85) as the work of Domenico Piola, but Paolo Gerolamo’s hand is suggested here, with the cautionary observation that, in the case of artists like the two Piolas, whose lives, styles, and even commissions were so closely intertwined, a distinction of hands is tentative. There exists a secure body of drawings that are generally accepted as by Domenico, but there is another homogeneous group of drawings, to which this sheet belongs, that are bolder and more brusque in the treatment of details, usually executed in pen, brush, and brown ink on toned paper with a generous addition of white heightening. This group includes drawings variously attributed to Paolo Gerolamo and Domenico in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, including Scene with Four Figures of Monk Discoursing (1973.91, with the initials PGP in an old hand in the upper left corner), Statue of Standing Apollo (1978.143), and Saint Mary Magdalene Buying Ointment (1980.3.471). Two drawings for oval ceiling decorations in the Pierpont Morgan Library New York, are also relevant to the discussion: Zeus Surrounded by Gods, for the Palazzo Durazzo Pallavicini in Rome (1982.93), and The Toilet of Bathsheba (1980.71). These drawings agree with the present sheet in technique and usage of the complex medium of pen, brown ink and wash, and black chalk, with the bold application of heavy opaque white providing strong contrasts. They also support the supposition that Paolo Gerolamo was allowed by his father to make finished preparatory drawings for important ceiling decorations. Mimi Cazort, from Italian Master Drawings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2004), cat. 19.

    Regina, Saskatchewan, Norman Mackenzie Art Gallery University of Saskatchewan; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. A Selection of Italian Drawings from North American Collections. Exhibition catalogue by Walter Vitzthum. Regina and Montreal, 1970, no. 64, fig. 64 (as by Domenico Piola);
    Binghamton, New York, University Art Gallery, State University of New York; Worcester, Massachusetts, Worcester Art Museum. Genoese Baroque Drawings. Exhibition catalogue by Mary Newcome. Binghamton, NY: University Art Gallery, State University of New York, 1972, no. 85, fig. 85 (as by Domenico Piola).