Seated Male Nude

Domenico Corvi, Italian, 1721 - 1803

Date:
c. 1760-1770

Medium:
Black chalk, stumped, with traces of white chalk, on cream laid paper

Dimensions:
Sheet: 21 15/16 x 16 3/4 inches (55.7 x 42.5 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
1978-70-263

Credit Line:
Bequest of Anthony Morris Clark, 1978

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Label:
Corvi was awarded a first prize for drawing in a competition at the Accademia di San Luca in his adopted city of Rome at age twenty-nine, and in the course of his slowly prospering career as a portraitist and history painter he became known for his astute rendering of the human figure. He taught nude drawing at the Accademia del Nudo in Rome and his painted compositions verify his close attention to accurate and inventive poses and gestures.

Additional information:
  • PublicationItalian Master Drawings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

    This large and impressive drawing was attributed to Domenico Corvi by Anthony Morris Clark. It is a finished example of Corvi’s “academies,” or studies done in the studio from the nude model, and one that deserves the Italian adjective ricercato (greatly esteemed), often used to describe the artist’s life drawings (see Ann Percy in Philadelphia Museum of Art; Houston, Texas, The Museum of Fine Arts. The Splendor of 18th-Century Rome. Exhibition catalogue titled Art in Rome in the Eighteenth Century, edited by Edgar Peters Bowron and Joseph J. Rishel. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art in association with Merrell, 2000, p. 461). It shows Corvi’s subtle command over the medium he favored in such studies and also demonstrates his drawing process. Once he had freely sketched in the general shape of the figure on the page, he would begin to develop its mass and musculature by the alternating application of black and white chalks in fine strokes, with special precision employed for the extremities of fingers and toes. He would also “stump” the chalk (that is, blend it with a finger or tightly rolled paper) for the subtle modeling of muscles. He would then refine his formal definition with crisp hatching using the sharpened chalk. Drawing from the nude was considered essential training for young artists and was granted official sanction with the founding in 1754 of the Accademia del Nudo in Rome as a subsidiary of the Accademia di San Luca, from whose membership a director was annually chosen. Corvi, who had earlier sponsored his own private teaching academy, was elected to the post in 1757 and then at intervals over the years until his death (see Stefano Susinno in Viterbo, Museo della Rocca Albornoz. Domenico Corvi. Exhibition catalogue edited by Valter Curzi and Anna Lo Bianco. Rome: Viviani Arte, 1998, pp. 173-89). Few of Corvi’s many nude studies, including this one, can be directly linked to specific paintings, which renders more difficult the establishment of dates. Edgar Peters Bowron (in A Scholar Collects: Selections from the Anthony Morris Clark Bequest, p. 71) suggested the date adopted here. The drawing shows the model as he would have been posed in the studio: seated on an assortment of boxes, one hand holding a baton. For comparable examples of Corvi’s consummate facility in studies of the nude body, see the twenty-eight similar sheets in the Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe of the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, Milan, an example of which is the Academic Study of a Nude Male Model in Profile (Philadelphia Museum of Art; Houston, Texas, The Museum of Fine Arts. The Splendor of 18th-Century Rome. Exhibition catalogue titled Art in Rome in the Eighteenth Century, edited by Edgar Peters Bowron and Joseph J. Rishel. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art in association with Merrell, 2000, no. 340, fig. 340). See also the Nude Study once with the Milanese dealer Stanza del Borgo (1986, no. 16, repro.) and, as an example of the treatment of a head detail, Head of a Boy (Cleveland, Ohio, The Cleveland Museum of Art. Neo-Classicism: Style and Motif. Exhibition catalogue by Henry Hawley. Cleveland, Ohio: The Cleveland Museum of Art, distributed by Harry N. Abrams, 1964, no. 10, repro.). Mimi Cazort, from Italian Master Drawings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2004), cat. 46.

    BIBLIOGRAPHY:
    Philadelphia Museum of Art. A Scholar Collects: Selections from the Anthony Morris Clark Bequest. Exhibition catalogue edited by Ulrich W. Hiesinger and Ann Percy. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1980. [Later shown at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 17 April-13 June 1982], no. 58, fig. 58 (as "Academic Nude, Seated") .