The Coronation of Grand Duke Cosimo I de'Medici pen and brown ink and brown wash, loss upper right margin, oval 63.9 x 64.2 cm. (25 1/8 x 25¼ in.), tondo unframed
PROVENANCE: Possibly part of the group of drawings given by Carlo Maratta to his wife Francesca, 1712.
LITERATURE: Rome, Archivio di Stato, Not.Trib.A.C., Vol. 3267, Francesco Francheschini Anno 1712 (April 28th) fol. 446-48 and 456, folded into the middle of Inventario delle cose piu singolare de Sig.r Cau.re Carlo Maratti fol. 432-45v and 458-70v. A.Nesselrath, 'Carlo Marattis Designs for the Piatti di S.Giovanni', Master Drawings, XVII, 4, 1979, pp.417-8. J.Montagu, Gold, Silver, and Bronze: Metal Sculpture of the Roman Baroque, New Haven, 1995, p. 97.
The present drawing is a preparatory design for the silver plate of The Coronation of Grand Duke Cosimo I deMedici of 1686, which was made by Andrea Melusi for the Piatti di San Giovanni. The silver plate no longer survives, since it was melted down by the French circa 1800, however plaster casts were made of all the plates in 1746, and are now in the Museo degli Argenti, Florence. The differences between the drawing and the final plate are minor, the most obvious change being the addition of a figure behind the kneeling figure of Cosimo I in the final plate design. Melusi has followed Marattas drawing closely. Maratta has drawn in great detail the right hand half of the plate, together with the central section, and left the left section blank, since the silversmith was going to repeat the same design. This was common practice in drawings for plate designs, or indeed frames, and it was not necessary for the artist to repeat a section which was only going to be copied in mirror image. The Piatti di San Giovanni were presented every year on the feast day of Saint John the Baptist, patron saint of Florence, in accordance with the fourth and final will of Cardinal Lazzaro Pallavinci. The Cardinal instructed that on his death a silver plate, of value up to 300 scudi, was to be given to the Medici as a sign of his devotion. On the death of the Cardinal in 1680 and until the last Medici in 1737 fifty-eight plates were given by the heirs of the Pallavicini. Four drawings by Maratta are known for plates covering the years 1681-4, and these are in the collection of the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth. The present drawing is now the fifth known drawing by Maratta and is comparable to the other four drawings in size, medium and technique. Nesselrath has identified a likely provenance for all these drawings, namely the artist's widow, Francesca. Although there is no precise inventory of these drawings, they are clearly connected to these and the Piatti di San Giovanni. Jennifer Montagu identified Andrea Melusi as the silversmith, since he received payments in 1688. She also notes that Maratta received a silver saucer in August 1683, which is a typical tip given to an artist for designs such as these. Complete drawings of this size and nature are rare on the market, and the last comparable drawing by Maratta of this size and importance was Allegorical Figures of the Church and Justice sold from the collection of the Dukes of Devonshire at Christies, London, 3 July 1984, lot 27, now in the John Paul Getty Museum.