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Marco Marcola

(circa 1740–1793 Verona)

Roman Commanders on the Battlefield. Pen and grey ink over chalk, point of brush in grey, brown and pink ink, white heightening. 25.6 x 39.2 cm. Inscribed “G. B. Marcola”, probably in a different hand.

Marco Marcola came from a widely ramified Veronese family of painters and was trained by his father, Giovanni Battista (1711–1780). He produced a considerable number of religious paintings and fresco decorations in and around Verona and also worked as a set-designer. There is a certain provincialism in Marcola’s painting, which occasionally suffers from technical shortcomings. His drawn oeuvre, on the other hand, reveals a freer and less inhibited spirit.

The present sheet, which probably depicts a scene from the Punic Wars, radiates a great inner vitality that is attributable primarily to the very free, agile and spontaneous drawing style. The compositional arrangement is equally lively and complex. Horses rear up in front of the chariots, soldiers heave with the physical strain of battle and one of Hannibal’s fighting elephants can be discerned in the background. Fallen and wounded warriors serve as a repoussoir in the foreground. Seemingly unconcerned by the fighting going on around them, the three Roman commanders at the forefront of the action symbolise the superiority of the Roman art of warfare. The fluidly applied, coloured washes enhance the visual appeal of this freely and confidently executed drawing. From the renowned collection of Herbert List (Lugt 4063).

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