A DISTANT VIEW OF FLORENCE FROM A ROAD ALONGSIDE THE BANK OF THE RIVER ARNO
Pen & brown ink on laid paper
20.5 x 25 cm
Private Collection, London
For an example recently offered at auction comparable to the present work, see that sold at Christie's, London, Old Master Drawings, 28.01.21, Lot 14 (View of Urbino with the Ducal Palace).
We suggest that the present work relates to two further drawings by Bazzicaluva's contemporary, Remigio Cantagallina (c.1582-1656): the first of which appears to show the same section of river bank (which we believe to be the South bank of the Arno outside Florence), sold at Bonhams, Knightsbridge, British & Continental Pictures, 08.01.2008, Lot 263 (as Attributed to Remigio Cantagallina, An Italianate River View); and the second drawing, which appears to show the same architectural topography seen in the present work's far left background, sold at Cheffins, Cambridge, Fine Art Sale, 10.03.2016, Lot 416 (Remigio Cantagallina, Tuscan Landscape). See additional images above for reproductions of these two drawings.
Our identification of the location is based on the architectural details visible in the far left background, which we believe to be the towers of the Palazzo Vecchio on the left (with its distinctive crenellations), the Tower of San Niccolò on the opposite side of the Arno and the hilltop Villa Strozzi - all picked out as key strategic elements and shown roughly in a topographically realistic fashion. For a comparison of the view from the same side of the Arno but the other side of Florence, by Remigio Cantagallina, see the fourth image above.
Ercole Bazzicaluva was born in Pisa and trained in Florence, at a time when it was dominated by the Médicis, in the workshop of Giulio Parigi. As a talented topographical draughtsman and engraver, he was commissioned to illustrate various cities early on in his career. While training in Florence, Bazzicaluva shared a house and workshop next to SS.Annunziata with fellow student and artist Simone Sacchettini. Among the other pupils in Parigi's workshop were the three sons of the landscape draftsman and painter Remigio Cantagallina, to whom Bazzicaluva's style is also indebted. In particular, his very finely detailed penmanship echoes Cantagallina's own skill in fine detailing, which would have been well-known to Bazzicaluva through the older artist's widely dispersed landscape etchings, if not through the original drawings themselves.
In 1638 he was commissioned to engrave a series of twelve landscapes and marine views for the Grand Duke Ferdinand II, comparable to those made by Callot (a fellow student of Parigi's) in 1618 for Giovanni de Médici. In 1641, Bazzicaluva illustrated the mock-heroic poem Le Pazzie dei Savi (or, Lambertaccio) by Bartolomeo Bocchini.
A printmaker and draftsman as well as a military man, Bazzicaluva later worked for the Archduke of Innsbruck and served as "castellan" at the old fortress of Livorno and the fortressat Siena according to his contemporary, the art historian Filippo Baldinucci, who further described him as ‘a brilliant draughtsman in pen and ink’. Among Bazzicaluva's other patrons was Alessandro Visconti, to whom he dedicated a series of etchings of hunting scenes.
Writing in 1970, the art historian and biographer Alfredo Petrucci wrote, "The ideal and formal world of Bazzicaluva primarily influenced by Antonio Tempesta, with the addition of an idiosyncratic taste for chivalry and displays of swordsmanship; and by the artist's direct and indirect contact with Giulio and Alfonso Parigi, Remigio Cantagallina, Giacomo Callot and Stefano Della Bella. His battles and hunt scenes are clearly inspired by Tempesta , the landscapes by Cantagallina and Stefano Della Bella..." (2)
(1) Pace A. Negro Spina, Giulio Parigi e gli incisori della sua cerchia, Naples (1983), pp.181-191
(2) A. Petrucci, Bazzicaluva, Ercole in the Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, Vol. 7 (Rome, 1970)
(i) B. Navarrete Prieto, Views of Spanish Ports by Ercole Bazzicaluva, Master Drawings, Vol. 45, 2007, no. 3, pp. 345-353
(ii) E. Spataro, A Voyage from Florence to Rome in April 1616: Giulio Parigi’s Sketchbook and Archival Documents, Getty Research Journal, Vol. 12 (2020), pp.205-218