Achilles scaring away Trojans after the death of Patroclus
inscribed ‘Achille getta un grido spaventevole, e fa fuggire i Troiani/ che incendiavano le navi greche’ (verso)
black chalk, pen and black ink, gray wash
2214 x 3014 in. (56.5 x 76.8 cm)
with Paolo Antonacci, Rome.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby’s, New York, 24 January 2007, lot 98.
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Lot Essay

An inscription on the verso of the sheet describes the subject of this impressive drawing as the moment when, in book XVIII of Homer’s Iliad, Achilles – with a loud and terrifying scream – frightens away the Trojans during a fight over Patroclus’s body. The scale of the present work and its forceful execution suggest that Pinelli envisaged it as a design for a painting or a fresco, yet no finished picture of this subject by him is known.
After training at the academies in Bologna and Rome, Pinelli established his own studio in Rome. There he was part of an international group of Neoclassical artists, among whom was his early mentor Felice Giani. Although mainly known as an illustrator of contemporary scenes of Roman life which he produced in large numbers for tourists and visitors to the city, Pinelli was also deeply interested in mythological, historical and literary themes. The present drawing is a powerful example of this aspect of the artist’s work and of his passionate engagement with classical literature. Two other sheets by Pinelli, comparable in size, technique and style of execution, representing scenes from Roman history, were sold at Christie’s, London, 5 July 2011, lots 92 and 93.

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