33. Guido Reni

Galvenzano 1575 – 1642 Bologna

A Girl Carrying a Dish, circa 1609 – 1612

Depictions of young serving maids carrying plates occur frequently in the works of Guido Reni. This is a prepara­tory study for the girl in The Birth of the Virgin, a fresco in the Capella dell’Annunziata in the Palazzo del Quirinale in Rome (1609-12). Reni has drawn the figure energetical­ly, indicating the movement of her dress with a network of busy, intuitive lines. The black chalk seems to slow down as it depicts the face and hands of the model. The thorny problem of the hands holding the plate, moulding them­selves to its form, caught the artist’s eye and he repeated this detail at the top of the sheet. In the enlarged detail he accentuated the lines on the right hand, correcting (compared with the first sketch) the foreshortening of the thumb and the angles formed between the wrist, the back of the hand and the bent fingers.