63. Giovanni Battista Ricci

Novara 1537 ? – 1627 Rome

A Pope Conferring a Charter on a Religious Order

Giovanni Battista Ricci was one of the painters who worked on papal decorations at the end of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth centuries. This drawing was probably a preparatory sketch for one of these commissions, although the painting itself has never been identified. It demonstrates Ricci’s ability to develop, in a format as constricting as a lunette, a composition showcasing a large crowd of people. The artist relied on his mastery of perspective to structure the space; in the centre, a staircase leads up to the main characters. The figures in the foreground, whose presence is emphasised by the firm lines with which they are drawn and the contrast of the wash, are also there to guide the spectator’s gaze: their backs are turned to us and, encouraged (as we are) by the young page, their attention is directed towards the main action.