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Christophe Veyrier

(1637 Trets, Bouches-du-Rhône – 1689 Toulon)

Circle of. Two Mascheroni. Black chalk. 29.9 x 20.3 cm. Watermark: Anchor in a circle beneath a four-point star and the letters PM.

In the past art historians held very different views of this highquality drawing which has been dashed off in brilliant fashion. It shows two Mascheroni which decorate the base of the Neptune fountain in Bologna that was executed by Giambologna
between 1563 and 1566. The drawing belongs to a sizeable group of decorative studies involving the same technique and with an identical format which were named the “Chaikin Group” after the previous owner and are now in the hands of various American, English and German private owners and museums. The attribution of this group of drawings to Pierre Puget was initially proposed by Anthony Blunt. In his monograph on Puget published in 1970 Klaus Herding also regarded the drawings as autograph works by Puget (Pierre Puget. Das bildnerische Werk, Berlin 1970, p. 34, note 155, fig. 4). In the forthcoming, posthumous revised edition of his Puget monograph, however, Herding abandons this idea and adduces stylistic reasons for ascribing the present drawing to the sculptor Christophe Veyrier, Puget’s nephew and pupil. Veyrier accompanied his uncle to Genoa in 1661 and spent the following years in Bologna, Florence and Rome before returning to France in the 1670s. Therefore, the possibility cannot be excluded that Veyrier made several studies of the Neptune fountain while he was in Bologna. In contrast, the ascription of the work by others to the virtually unknown Bolognese ornamentist, Enrico Giovanni Haffner (1640–1702), does not seem convincing, since the quality of the few surviving sheets he produced is far inferior. 

The present scene has been drawn on very finely structured, thin laid paper, as was customary in 17th century Italy, thus providing an added indication that the drawing was made at that time. The many unresolved questions concerning the authorship of the drawing notwithstanding, it is a remarkable study executed with great artistic panache.

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