A Kneeling Angel Mourning the Dead Christ in a Landscape

WAG 1995.197


The drawing appears to be a compositional study for the figures in a painting on copper (28.5 x 39.5cm) in the Musée Granet, Aix-en Provence (inv.860.1.17) entitled 'Angel adoring the dead Christ', which the French museum attributes to the Neapolitan artist Andrea di Lione (1610-1685). Professor Ann Sutherland Harris of the University of Pittsburgh believes that the Walker's drawing may also be attributable to him. However, it is also possible that the oil painting in France was painted by Castiglione, although the background landscape details are slightly different from the drawing. Mary Newcombe (in an article about Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione in 'Nuovi Studi: Rivista di arte antica e moderna, No. 2, 1997, p. 63)' observed that around 1635 both Castiglione and di Lione were working in Naples and shared figures, compositions and subject matter while under the spell of Nicolas Poussin's work An image by Castiglione, for example, would be found to have a counterpart in a painting by di Lione, which would make difficult an accurate attribution of their works. Castiglione had inherited from his Genoese master Giovanni Battista Paggi, with whom he spent his early years, the practice of using both sides of paper. On the reverse of this drawing there are ten lines of a coded text in the form of an acrostic puzzle, with the first letter of every word provided, and with the rest coded only in dots and dashes above and below a straight line. The first few words have been translated underneath into Italian: "sono ai me Ben mi o [I am alas . . .?]." Similarly, a nine-line stanza appears on the verso of a 1630s drawing by Castiglione "Landscape with Sheep by a Lake [Paesaggio]" in the Suida-Mannng collection in New York.