Red chalk, heightened with white, on beige paper, 435 x 293 mm.
PROVENANCE: Luigi Grassi (Rome 1913-1994) Lugt 4465; Mela collection, Florence.
The main study in this drawing, the half-length male figure, is connected with the figure of Christ as appears in a group of four drawings by Baciccio in the Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf. See D. Graf, Die Handzeichnungen von Guglielmo Cortese und Giovanni Battista Gaulli, Düsseldorf 1976; nos 458-461. This is quite evident comparing our with one of these drawings: the large standing figure of Christ in pen and grey wash. The comparison also shows that the two studies for a left hand under the arm of the man are both related with the hand of Christ bearing the cross.
The four drawings in Düsseldorf, dated circa 1685 by Dieter Graf, are to be related to the depiction of the subject Domine, Quo Vadis, but I do not know a pictorial realization of them. A painting by Gaulli of this subject is known, but dating from the mid-seventies and different in composition. (see: F. Petrucci, Baciccio: Giovan Battista Gaulli 1639-1709, Rome, 2009, no. D30, p. 582).
A few remarks about the other studies of hands that appear on the sheet. The pair of hands at bottom left are possibly connected, as Vittorio Azzoni kindly suggested, with the portrait of monsignor Giuseppe Renato Imperiali, ca. 1686 (see: F. Petrucci, op. cit, no. A69, p. 436). The left hand drawn on the top of the sheet is just a variant study for the left hand at bottom.
It seems to me that our drawing compares very well with other published sheets of studies in red chalk touched with white, which are all similar for dimensions, technique and for the handling of chalk, with a sober use of sfumato. See M. Fagiolo dell'Arco, D. Graf, F. Petrucci, Giovanni Battista Gaulli detto il Baciccio, catalogue of the exhibition in Ariccia, 1999: nos. 65a and 65b (tav. 4 and 5). See also F. Petrucci, Baciccio, Rome, 2009; nos. B.12.1, B.12.2, B.12.3, B.13.1, B.16.1, B.16.2, C.15.1, D.66.11 (all illustrated).
I compare here our drawing with two of those drawings, dating to the eighties and nineties.