44. Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called Guercino

Cento 1591 – 1666 Bologna

The Risen Christ and the Virgin Mary, circa 1628 – 1630

This is a primo pensiero, an initial compositional sketch for The Risen Christ Appearing to the Virgin Mary (1628-30, Pinacoteca Civica, Cento), one of Guercino’s finest paint­ings. Here the artist has drawn the figures half-length, omitting the ample drapery that plays such a strong visual role in the painting, and which was studied sepa­rately in red chalk (Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart). In our draw­ing, Guercino concentrates on the relationship between Christ and the Virgin, who kisses her son’s hand as he embraces her. This closeness and emotionality are modi­fied in the final painting. Relocated to one side, Mary places a tentative hand on Christ’s wound, who’s body is portrayed in full light. Guercino’s painting thus gained the clarity that characterises his classic style.