PIETRO LONGHI (Venice 1701-1785)
A priest giving a sermon in a church
black chalk, watermark coat of arms above letters ‘ROSA’
758 x 11 in. (19.5 x 28 cm)
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Lot Essay

This is a study for the composition for The friars sermon, a painting by Longhi dated to the 1750s and recorded in a private collection in Bergamo (fig. 1; see T. Pignatti, Pietro Longhi, London, 1969, p. 73, pl. VII, fig. 114). Longhi is well-known for his paintings depicting scenes of contemporary Venetian life, yet he was also a prolific draftsman. Rarely, however, drawings by his hand appear on the art market, as almost all of the artist’s graphic production is in public collections, with the largest group preserved at the Museo Correr, Venice (T. Pignatti, ‘The Drawings of Pietro Longhi’, in Masterpieces of Eighteenth-century Venetian Drawing, exhib. cat., Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, 1983, pp. 112-132). The majority of Longhi’s drawings are studies of single figures, objects, and other individual details for his paintings; rare are compositional studies such as the present one. Another example is A woman at the bed of her husband in the Museo Correr (inv. 462; see Pignatti, op. cit., 1983, fig. 56). Stylistically, the present study can be compared with a pastoral landscape with figures at the Morgan Library and Museum (inv. 1950.10; see F. Stampfle and J. Bean, Drawings from New York Collections. The Eighteenth Century in Italy, exhib. cat., New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1971, no. 175, ill.).
Fig. 1. Pietro Longhi, The friar’s sermon. Private collection.

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