Art, Travel & Life in Italy & Europe

Princeton University Art Museum needs your help to identify this town in Italy

Lia Markey from Princeton University Art Museum has asked for the help of ArtTrav readers in identifying the town represented in this seventeenth-century drawing in their collection.

Cantagallina, Scene in a Village Square with a Church, Princeton University Art Museum

Here is what Lia is able to tell us about the work:

The drawing is a typical work by the etcher and draughtsman Remigio Cantagallina (1582-1656), who produced numerous landscape drawings throughout his career. I personally love the way he inserts people in his city views and landscapes. There is almost always at least some person seated and seen from the back that seems to reference us as the viewer and creates a vantage point for the scene before us.

He was born in San Sepulcro (Sansepolcro) and this view reminds me of towns around Arezzo, and could even be his home town.

Cantagallina’s work was greatly influenced by northern printmakers like Paul Brill and in fact, the artist traveled to the Netherlands in 1612-13.  Many of Cantagallina’s drawings are composed of tight hatching recalling the work of his northern colleagues and reminding us of his print production. This work is particularly striking for its dramatic use of wash that creates chiaroscuro affects.

The Princeton sheet is dated on the wall at left next to the tree: “6 di luglio 1633.” He inscribed the date on many of his drawings indicating that they might have acted as a type of personal journal. For this reason we believe that the places represented are accurate reflections of what they looked like at the time, so the town in this drawing ought to be identifiable.

detail of church

Detail of piazza with ruined building that likely is no longer

We need to take into account that the piazza represented here may have changed over time, though the church is a likely landmark. There may be newer buildings nearby and the angle from which the drawing was made may no longer be a viable approach to the space, making it hard to identify. Lia and her colleagues hope that readers who live in the area might recognize the church, piazza and town. Please help by commenting below!

Photo used with permission, full details: Remigio Cantagallina, Italian, 1582 ‑ after 1633. Scene in a Village Square with a Church in the Center Middle Ground, Pen and iron gall ink and brush and brown wash over black chalk, 24.8 x 39.1 cm (9 3/4 x 15 3/8 in.). Princeton University Art Museum. Museum purchase, Laura P. Hall Memorial Fund x1956‑32. Photo: Bruce M. White


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By: arttrav

Alexandra Korey aka ArtTrav is a Florence-based art historian and arts marketing consultant.