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Architectural Capriccio with Roman Ruins and Staffage Figures. Pen and brown ink, brown wash. 12.8 x 18.8 cm. Watermark: Anchor in a circle (fragment).
Giovanni Paolo Pannini is known primarily as an architectural painter and drawer of highly finished, often large capriccios and vedute which are remarkable for their wealth of detail and masterful execution. The charm of the present small study sheet derives from its intimacy and atmospheric density.
The artist has seemingly effortlessly merged the different pictorial motifs – the ancient ruins, the summarily indicated vegetation and the staffage figures – into a compact and visually compelling composition. The deft, accurate penwork and the finely graded washes give the drawing great verve and considerable spontaneity. Details such as the statue of Jupiter, the plinth decorated with a griffin and the scattered architectural fragments are rendered in a foreshortened manner with great virtuosity. The artist has succeeded in creating great depth of space and atmosphere in a very small format. Everything points to the work of a versatile and highly talented draughtsman.
A stylistically very similar drawing is kept in Paris, Musée du Louvre, Département des Arts Graphiqies, inv. no. 6711 (see exhib. cat. Giovanni Paolo Pannini. Römische Veduten aus dem Louvre, ed. by M. Kiene, Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum Braunschweig, 1993, p. 147, no. 47).