A Seated Old Beggar in Cloak and Hat

WAG 1995.246


A typically fluid brush drawing by Magnasco of an isolated figure slumped over his stick holding out his begging mug. Magnasco began his career as a "figurista" providing the small figures which enlivened the large landscapes and architectural scenes of his collaborater Antonio Francesco Peruzzini. It wasn't until the 1720s that he began to paint his own landscapes teeming with monks, friars, the lame or wounded, beggars, thieves and other social outcasts. Most of his drawings, show single figures or small groups isolated against summarily sketched woods and footpaths, which he inserted into painted settings. Such figures were capable of being adapted and reused. A slumped beggar similar to the Liverpool figure can be found in two of Magnasco's collaborative landscapes: seated beside the roadside in the background to the left of the 'Journey of the Monks' (Galleria Sabauda, Turin) painted in Florence between 1703-1709 for someone attached to the court of Grand Prince Ferdinand de' Medici; and in the shadowy left foreground of the large 'Landscape with Travelling Capuchin Friars' (Brera Museum, Milan, inv.4964) painted between 1719 and the early 1720s as part of a set of four probably for a Milanese or noble Lombard family.