66. Niccolò de Martinelli, called il Trometta

Pesaro circa 1540 – 1611 Rome

Christ Preaching in the Temple

It has not been possible to relate this drawing to any of Martinelli’s decorative schemes. It demonstrates, nevertheless, the degree to which his style derived from the art of the Roman Mannerists, in particular that of Taddeo Zuccari. From Zuccari come the expressiveness of the figures and the well-planned compositions, as this sheet illustrates. The semi-circular surface, defined by the artist, is densely packed. The structuring of the space is based on the architecture – whose perspective is skilfully rendered – then taken over by the arrangement of the figures. The spectator’s gaze ricochets off the groups in the foreground then plunges into the empty space of the staircase, drawn towards the oculus. There, it is brought to a halt by a new gathering of people and is naturally redirected towards the central, though off-centre, luminous figure of Christ.