Carlo Innocenzo Carloni - inv. 3268
The Poldi Pezzoli Museum conserves the fresco representing The Apotheosis of Bartolomeo Colleoni (inv. d.t. 727) as well as this sketch in oil on canvas.
Those who would like to follow the complex path from the first studies to the definitive version of this work, find themselves in an enviable position. As well as the fresco and this oil sketch, the Poldi Pezzoli also has another two studies on paper, realised in pen and finished in watercolour. Only one of these shows the typical squaring needed for realising the cartoon on the same scale as the fresco: the cartoon was then laid on the wet plaster and a stylus was pressed against it transferring the drawing to the wall surface. Therefore, the drawing that is not squared represents the first version of the creative process, from which Carloni passed to the squared drawing and then to the cartoon.
An oil sketch was generally realised to show the work to the patron beforehand in order to show off one’s bravura and to study the most harmonious and pleasing combination of colours.
During the 18th century, a specific pictorial technique for oil sketches was devised: a way of painting in darting strokes, where figures were only sketchily outlined, which gave the impression that the work was composed of whirling masses of colour.
This way of painting immediately gained enthusiastic admirers who invented a specific type of collecting which recognised in these sketches the same value as autonomous works of art. With these eyes we must return to appreciate Carloni’s sketch, observing its specific characteristics and quality beyond mere comparison with the fresco.