Sketches for Grotesque Wall Decorations

Sketches for Grotesque Wall Decorations

This sheet is one of the finest and most dynamic that survives from Girolamo’s sojourn to Rome. As with most of the studies he produced while making his way through the city, we see him here working in his favorite medium of pen and brown ink. Many of these sketches are directly related to Perino del Vaga?s designs for the walls and ceiling of the Sala Paolina in the Castel Sant?Angelo.

The elements on both sides of this sheet are also present in separate sheets in the ?Roman Sketchbook? in Turin[1]. This repetition of elements, like a musician working out phrasing, was Girolamo?s modus operandi. One can see the caryatid with a vase on her head, for example, represented also in a double-sided sheet of sketches in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The same caryatid can be seen again in a drawing at the Courtauld Institute.

In fact, the Courtauld drawing, like the present sheet, once formed part of the substantial 19th century collection of Prof. August Grahl. They appeared as adjacent lots in the 1885 sale of Grahl?s collection.

For more on Girolamo da Carpi, read his Inspiration page.

[1] Norman W. Canedy, The Roman Sketchbook of Girolamo da Carpi (London, 1976), T 51, T 67, T 157.