The ‘third’ sketchbook by Giuseppe Santini

Santini, Giuseppe (d. ca. 1717).

Libbro di Figure diuerse fatte nel 1663. in Liuorno. Libbro terso. Giuseppe Manuscript "sketchbook" on paper [1663].

Santini, Giuseppe (d. ca. 1717) Libbro di Figure diuerse fatte nel 1663. in Liuorno. Libbro terso. Giuseppe Manuscript "sketchbook" on paper [1663].

Folio (398x270 mm). Twenty-six leaves, including the title-page, numbered 1-28 (leaves 8 and 9 are missing). Title-page within an elaborate burnt-sienna border. Six full-page drawings in burnt sienna numbered 2-7 (the first three are pasted), eight full-page drawings in pencil numbered 10-17, eight full-page drawings in burnt sienna, on same-color background, numbered 18-25, three full-page drawings in pencil, on light blue background, numbered 26-28. Most of the drawings bear the monogram 'gsf.' ('Giuseppe Santini fecit') and are surrounded by a double-fillet border. Contemporary vellum, over pasteboards. Inked title on spine. Red edges. Some minor staining and fingermarks, somewhat loose.

A fine album of drawings, mostly executed in burnt sienna by Giuseppe Santini. Born in Pisa to a family originally from Barga, near Lucca. He was a pupil of the sculptor and engineer to the Duke of Tuscany, Ferdinando Tacca, with whom he collaborated in 1661 on the staging of Ercole in Tebe, a drama performed in Florence on the occasion of Cosimo III's marriage to Marguerite Louise d'Orléans. From 1670 onwards he worked in Pisa as an engineer with the rank of captain and was put in charge of ditches and canalization works in the cultivated fields. In the following years, he supervised the construction of bridges, embankments, roads, and ramparts, and was responsible for the restoration of palaces, castles, churches and the Medici armory in Pisa. He also drew several topographical maps of the territories of Pistoia, Pisa, and Livorno; his surviving maps are extremely accurate and show his great ability both as a geographer and as a draftsman.

In addition to these primary endeavours, Santini was a skilled artist and collector of drawings, and during his site inspections on the countryside and in town he would always have with him a sketchbook and a pencil; indeed, most of his subjects are taken from life during his trips on horseback.

The album offered here contains mainly studies of naked male bodies, but also cherubs, a king, a saint or prophet, a female figure and a group with Muses and laureate poets. Santini's skillful hand shows the influence, alongside Volterrano, who drew similar subjects, of such artists as Giulio Parigi, Remigio Cantagallina, Ercole Bazzicaluva, Valerio Spada, and Jacques Callot.

Apparently Santini used to gather his own drawings in numbered books. The Fondazione Longhi collection had an album of drawings produced by Santini himself, called Libbro di diversi disegni per principianti fatto l'anno 1663 in Firenze Libbro decimo sesto, which was disassembled and sold in 1982. The album was composed of fifty-four sheets depicting landscapes; single figures of hunters, peasants, and armored knights; and anatomical studies of hands, feet, and heads.

The Uffizi likewise owns a surviving title-page by Santini and four of his drawings with subjects relating to Florence, all from another one of his albums, Disegni e capricci diversi copiati dal natural in diversi luoghi Libro Nono. The present album is – as the title states – the Libbro Terso, i.e., the third Book, and therefore represents an early moment in his artistic activity as well as an important finding in the history of Tuscan drawing at the second half of the seventeenth century.

M. Privitera, “Il capitano e ingegnere Giuseppe Santini, collezionista di disegni e disegnatore”, Paragone. Arte, 60 (2009), pp. 103-111; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 211.

$ 12.000