[After Raphael’s fresco in the Vatican Loggias]

Pen & ink with grey washes

7 x 9.5cm


William Lygon, 8th Earl Beauchamp, JP, DL (1903-1979) [1];

By whom sold, Sotheby's, London, 27.11.1975, Lot 12 [Part of];

Where acquired by Alister Matthews (1907-1985), Bournemouth;

(By whom dispersed and sold);
Private Collection, U.K.



We are grateful to Dr Jonathan Yarker for confirming the work's provenance and authenticity. 



The drawing presented here comes originally from an album of 349 pencil and pen & ink with wash drawings, formerly in the collection of the Earl of Beauchamp, which was inscribed This book contains sketches & studies made by James Northcote RA

(1746-1831) during a tour in Italy 1777.


Nancy Pressly noted in her catalogue for the seminal 1979 exhibition ‘The Fuseli Circle in Rome: Early Romantic Art of the 1770’s’ (Yale Centre for British Art): "The Album...included copies after the Old Masters, genre scenes, and animal and figure studies, as well as three large drawings related to Fuseli...A few of the studies were drawn on ship's ledger paper watermarked LVG, while most of the others were at one time glued down to similar ledger paper prior to being assembled in the album" [2]



We may gain some insight into the young Northcote's excitement at reaching Rome, where he engaged in serious study of the Italian Masters, from the later artist James Ward's biography of him:


"It soon became his chief delight in Rome to visit the Vatican. Within the lofty halls and chambers of the most extensive palace in the world, he never wearied of standing before the works of the old masters; and, oftentimes, as he stood there alone, reverently contemplating the handiwork of Raphael and of Michael Angelo, it was only the strange shadows of evening and the gathering gloom of nightfall that would compel the young disciple to leave the silent galleries..." [3]


Northcote himself recalled the following about his time in the Vatican - then an entirely different experience to what modern-day tourists have to contend with:

“As I was anxious to make the most ofmy time at the Vatican, the Keeper indulged my love for the art by allowing me to remain there after the hour of closing. I used to lock the doors myself and take the keys to him after I had done. I often thus remained, surrounded by the grand and solemn works of Raphael, until it was quite dusk..." [4]


During Northcote's apprenticeship, one of his tasks was to bid on drawings for his teacher - who was one of the most prolific and accomplished collectors of Master drawings of his age. This process likely shaped the young Northcote's eye and directed his preferences, like his master's, towards the Italian Masters of bygone centuries. Such affinity no doubt reached its climax in Northcote's first-hand

experience of the treasures of Rome.


[1] Jonathan Yarker, James Northcote's Letters, The Wapole Society, Vol. 83 (2021), footnote (49), "The album of 349 drawings was in the collection of Earl Beauchamp and sold at Sotheby's, November 27, 1975, lot 12, where it was acquired by the dealer Alister Matthews, who dispersed the drawings" 
[2] Nancy L. Pressly, The Fuseli Circle in Rome: Early Romantic Art of the 1770s (exhib cat.), Yale (1979), p.99
[3] James Ward, Conversations of James Northcote, R. A. with James Ward, on art and artists, ed. Ernest Fletcher, London (1901), p.10
[4] Ibid., p.44

JAMES NORTHCOTE, R.A. (1746-1831)