In the year 1529 the medieval church San Marcello al Corso in Rome burnt down to the ground. Nothing but a crucifix could be saved from its ashes.
Not long after the fire a rebuilding campaign started, that would last for several decades. One of the new chapels in the rebuilt church was adopted by the distinghuished Frangipani family. This family commissioned the artist Taddeo Zuccaro (1529-1566) to decorate the chapel with frescoes and an altarpiece. Taddeo started working on the project in 1556 and soon was joined by his brother Federico (1539/43-1609). The results of their creative powers are still to be admired in the church.
A Drawing by Taddeo Zuccaro
The drawing kept in Leiden is related to the San Marcello project. Most probably it is a design for one of the spandrels above the chapel’s entrance. This is the part of the decorations that unfortunately has not survived but several other, related drawings confirm this suggestion. Zuccaro’s drawing is a typical example of Italian draughtmanship: vibrant, energetic and spirited at the same time.
Taddeo Zuccaro, Two Angels, red chalk drawing, Collection Leiden University Libraries (PK-T-2393)
Collection of Italian Drawings
The Italian drawings from the collections of the Print Room are largely unknown to the audience. Some have been listed in the literature but most have remained hidden from public view. Their number is a modest one, especially compared to the Netherlandish and Dutch drawings. Nevertheless, the collections contains some interesting examples from artists such as Jacopo Ligozzi, Taddeo and Federico Zuccaro, Guercino, Jacopo Palma, Filippino Lippi, Ubaldo Gandolfi and Cherubino Alberti. Recently all Italian drawings were re-evaluated. Art historical questions have been researched, as well as art technical ones.
The exhibition Occhio! Unknown drawings from Italy was on display in the Leiden University Library from Sunday 13 May 2012 onwards. Apart from the drawing by Taddeo Zuccaro some forty other Italian drawings have been presented. An online exhibition with extensive catalogue entries on each drawing, has become accessible as well.