Study of a putto holding a palm branch
with inscription 'Di Francesco Barbieri detto il Guercino/ da Cento' (on the mount)
pen and brown ink
8⅛ x 6¾ in. (20.6 x 17 cm.)

Francesco Maria Niccolò Gabburri (1676-1742), Florence (L. 2992b, with his inscription 'Originale del Guercino' and his number 'No. 135 [crossed out]/ No. 321', verso).
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This is a study for the putto at left in Guercino's Saints Gertrude and Lucretia from 1645, now in the Galleria Sabauda (inv. 140; N. Turner, The Paintings of Guercino. A revised and Expanded Catalogue raisonné, Rome, 2017, no. 313, ill). The painting's history is well documented; it was commissioned by the Duca d'Altemps (presumably Gianpietro d'Altemps (1615-1691), who paid Guercino on 8 June 1645 the sum of 260 ducats after which is was placed as the altarpiece in the S. Nicola da Tolentino, Rome. A drawing showing the same composition with slight differences, is in the Royal Collection, Windsor (inv. 2945; D. Mahon and N. Turner, The Drawings of Guercino in the Collection of her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle, Cambridge, 1989, no. 408).

The drawing’s provenance is of considerable interest as the mount bears an inscription and numbering on the reverse in the hand of the Florentine collector Francesco Maria Niccolò Gabburri (1676–1742). Gabburri was among the earliest 18th-century Italian collectors to own a group of Guercino drawings, with his French contemporary Pierre Crozat also collecting the artist in his respective country. While it is known Crozat’s collection derived from the heirs of Conte Carlo Cesare Malvasia of Bologna the precise source of Gabburri’s group of works is unknown. It is thought they may have come directly from the artist’s heirs. Much of Gabburri’s Guercino collection survives but comparatively few retain their original mounts making this piece unusual in its provenance and direct link to the collectors own hand. Another drawing by Guercino, showing A study of a winged angel, ub the William Humphreys Art Gallery, Kimberley, also survives on a Gabburri mount (see 'The Italian drawings collection of Cavaliere Francesco Maria Niccolò Gabburri (1676–1742),’ in Collecting Prints & Drawings in Europe c. 1500–1750, C. Baker et al., Ashgate, 2003, p. 202).

We are grateful to Nicholas Turner for his assistance in cataloguing this drawing and for confirming the attribution to Guercino.
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