Family of Darius before Alexander the Great
18.2 cm x 24.2 cm (7 3/16 in. x 9 1/2 in.)
(Cremona, Italy, 1671 - 1749, Bologna, Italy)
Medium and Support:
Pen and brown ink with brush and brown wash on cream antique laid paper, laid down
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Suida-Manning Collection, 2017
Reacting against the formulae of late Baroque painting, Creti attempted to return classicism to its first principles, in the art of Guido Reni. The result of this idiosyncratic conservatism, seen to advantage in the Collection’s Lady with a String of Pearls, is an extreme refinement of form and color, a suppression of affect, and a precarious beauty. The same ideality and relationship to Bolognese tradition are evident in Creti’s drawings. Mostly in pen-and-ink, they are admirable in structure and fluency, but unnatural, rather abstract, in their regularity and ellipses. An especially sure and synthetic study of a full composition, the present drawing is probably an alternative design for one of the frescoes of the life of Alexander the Great painted for the Duke of Novellara around 1700, but long lost.