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Last updated: 6/23/2019
Home / Gallery Tour 1 / Old Master Drawings and Prints / Gallery Tour 2 / Artists
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Old Master Drawings: Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, 1591-1666)

North Italian Illuminated Manuscript / Italian Old Master Drawings: An Overview / Italian School, 16th-Century Drawings
Michelangelo Buonarotti (After) / Raphael / Giulio Romano / Perino del Vaga / Marcantonio Raimondi / Parmigianino
Titian (after) / Andrea Schiavone / Tintoretto / Veronese / Taddeo Zuccaro / Federico Zuccaro / Alessandro Casolani
Jacopo Palma il Giovane / Cherubino Alberti / Luca Cambiaso / Annibale Carracci / Ludovico Carracci

Italian School, 17th-Century Drawings / Bolognese School / Giovanni Baglione / Matteo Rosselli / Ercole Bazzicaluva
Baldassare Franceschini called Il Volterrano / Pier Francesco Mazzuccelli, il Morazzone / Odoardo Fialetti / Simone Cantarini
Domenichino / Francesco Albani / Giovanni Lanfranco / Guercino / Pier Francesco Mola / Antonio Busca

Italian School Printmakers, 15th-17th Centuries: Venetian School, c. 1497 / Raphael School / Giovanni Jacopo Caraglio
Marcantonio Raimondi / The Master of the Die / Anea Vico / Agostino Veneziano / Nicholas Beatrizet
Michelangelo Buonarotti (After) / Giulio Bonasone / Giovanni Battista Franco /Girolamo Fagiuoli / Cherubino Alberti
Titian (after) / Tintoretto (after) / Parmigianino / Giorgio Ghisi / Diana Scultori / Annibale Carracci / Ludovico Carracci
Agostino Carracci / Simone Cantarini / Elisabetta Sirani / Gerolamo Scarsello

Netherlandish School, 15th-17th-Century Drawings / Flemish School, 17th-Century
Bernaert van Orley / Lucas van Leyden / Maarten de Vos / Jan Baptiste de Wael / Abraham Bloemaert
Peter Paul Rubens / Philipp Sadeler / Nicolaes Maes / Rembrandt School

Netherlandish Printmakers 16th-17th Centuries: Lucas van Leyden, Maarten van Heemskerck, Cornelis Cort
Philips Galle, Abraham de Bruyn, Hans (Jan) Collaert, Adriaen Collaert, Karel de Mallery, Theodore Galle, Hendrik Goltzius
Julius Goltzius, Jacob Matham, Jan Sanraedam, Maarten de Vos, Jan Sadeler, Aegidius Sadeler, Raphael Sadeler
Crispin de Passe, Magdalena de Passe, Wierix Brothers, Rembrandt, Rembrandt School, Jan Lievens, Jan Joris van Vliet,
Ferdinand Bol, Govert Flinck
German Drawings: Hans Sebald Beham / Virgil Solis / Hans von Aachen / Joseph Heinrich Roos
German 16th century printmakers: Heinrich Aldegrever, Jost Amman, Hans Sebald Beham, Hans Brosamer, Hans Burgkmair,
Lucas Cranach, Albrecht Durer, Albrecht Durer (After), Hans Holbein (After), Hopfer Brothers, Georg Pencz, Hans Schäufelein,
Virgil Solis, Wolfgang Stuber

French Drawings: Charles de La Fosse / Etienne Parrocel / François Boucher / Jean-François de Neufforge / Mouricault
French printmakers: Etienne Delaune / Rene Boyvin /Thomas de Leu / Jean Cousin the Younger / Jacques Callot
Abraham Bosse / Sebastien Bourdon / Claude Gelle "le Lorraine" / Jean LePautre
Claudine Bouzonnet Stella / Antonette Bouzonnet Stella / Gabriel Perelle

19th-Century Drawings / 20th-Century Drawings

Giovanni Francesco Barberi was nicknamed Guercino because he was "guercio," or cross-eyed. Born in poverty in Cento, near Ferrara, he was largely self-taught, though he also served a brief apprenticeship. The glowing colorism and emotion of Lodovico Carracci's Holy Family with Saint Francis in Bologna influenced him profoundly, and Lodovico himself encouraged the young man. From 1614 to 1621, the year Pope Gregory XV summoned him to Rome, Guercino painted the altarpieces that are his most Baroque creations. With Lodovico's and Caravaggio's works pointing the way, Guercino brought the viewer into the painting's space, adding dramatic lights and darks and greater emotional intensity. Throughout his career, Guercino's style underwent dramatic changes. In Rome he first felt pressured to paint in the popular classicizing style. Returning to Cento two years later, his dark shadows faded, strong movement disappeared, and details emerged distinctly in clear light. To "satisfy as well as he could most of the people, especially those who asked for paintings and had the money to pay for them, he had shown paintings in the lighter style," reported his first biographer. Guercino ran his Cento studio until 1642, when Guido Reni, who had loathed him, died. Guercino then moved to Bologna, taking over Reni's religious picture workshop and his role as the city's leading painter (Source: Getty Museum biography). Stone, Guercino: Master Draftsman, points our that "Drawings played an essential role in . . . [Guercino's] stylistic development and professional career. . . . Like Picasso, Guercino's mind and hand were never idle. He lived to draw. . . . Though the vast majority of his drawings served utilitarian purposes–mainly the preparation of paintings—no other artist of the period made so many sheets for his own delight and the enjoyment of others. Guercino was truly a pioneer in treating drawings as independent works of art. The extraordinary survival of so many of his sheets may have been partly due to the fact that he (and later his heirs) regarded them as a record of his genius and creativity and not merely as the by-product s of painting and fresco projects" (p. xix).

Diane de Grazia's characterization of the qualities that have made Guercino's drawings appealing in his own times and in ours bears repeating: "Even in his own day, the artist was admired for his vibrant and calligraphic pen sketches. He often made quick notations of forms to be used as studies for paintings or merely for his own pleasure. . . . Guercino must have been an indefatigable draughtsman, for after three centuries, what remains of his drawings is found in collections all over the world. His draughtsmanship, with its energetic flashes of the pen, has been much copied but never equalled" (Guercino Drawings in the Art Museum, Princeton University, Introduction). Nicholas Turner and Carol Plazzotta print a series of studies for an "Atlas standing" (figures 144-148, pages 173-178) in which we see Guercino thinking with his pen, changing the direction in which Atlas faces, the angle of his upraised arms, and the orientation of his face, a convincing demonstration that Guercino discovered his subjects as he drew them, like Michelangelo freeing his sculptures from the stone that imprisoned them. Stone, Guercino: Master Draftsman, similarly suggests that most of Guercino's drawings should not be thought of as " 'blueprints' for the style of the paintings they study" but rather that they serve as "intellectual 'time-outs' in which the artist gives himself the freedom to invent, to delve into the istoria, without having to worry about such tedious issues as the size of the canvas, the number of figures he must eventually squeeze into the composition, or even the format of the picture, whether horizontal or vertical" (xxiii). Stone also suggests that the medium for the drawings was often based upon the need to use a technique that offered the most freedom and flexibility in putting images seen by the mind's eye onto the page, noting that Guercino's "preferred drawing medium throughout his life was pen or pen and wash" and his drawings show "the velocity with which Guercino could use his pen to 'attack' his subject on the sheet: the quick succession of pentimenti in the drawing would have been difficult if not impossible to realize in any other medium" (p. xix). Stone points out that Guercino frequently used red chalk "in the middle and later stages of the design process when, for example, it would become necessary to go beyond the mere blocking out of forms conceived in earlier compositional pen studies and he had to begin planning the actual, detailed look of anatomies and draperies. It was often in red-chalk drawings that modelling according to a specific angle of illumination was first considered with any real precision." Stone also notes that "in the later 1640s and 1650s . . . red chalk–which so perfectly predicted the abstraction and delicate pastel tonalities of his paintings–became Guercino's medium of choice" (p. xix).

Bibliography: Alberto Alberghini, Guercino: La Collezione di Stampe (Ferrara, Cento, 1991); Diane DeGrazia, Guercino Drawings in the Art Museum, Princeton University (Princeton: the Art Museum, Princeton University, 1969); Sybille Ebert-Schifferer, ed., Il Guercino 1591 - 1666 (Bologna: Nuova Alfa Editoriale, 1991: Catalogue of the Guercino exhibition, held in the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Bologna in 1991); Michael Helston and Francis Russell, Guercino in Britain: Paintings from British Collections (London: National Gallery Publications, 1991); Denis Mahon, Il Guercino. Catalogo critico dei disegni a cura di Denis Mahon (Bologna: Alfa, 1968); David M. Stone, Guercino: Master Draftsman (Bologna: Nuova Alfa Editoriale, 1991; the catalog of a travelling show organized by the Harvard University Art Museums); David M. Stone, Guercino: cataloge completo die dipinti (Cantini 1991); Nicholas Turner, Guercino Drawings From Windsor Castle (Washington D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1991); Nicholas Turner and Carol Plazzotta, Drawings by Guercino from British collections: with an appendix describing the drawings by Guercino, his school and his followers in the British Museum (London: British Museum Press, 1991).
Guercino, attributed, Doubting Thomas. Red chalk drawing on laid paper with no watermark, c. 1621? Stamped with the collector's mark of J. Auldjo (Lugt 48). A previous owner has noted "Guercino" as the author of this drawing, in which St. Peter watches as St. Thomas reaches around from behind to insert his left hand into the wound in Christ's side at Jesus' command so that he might not perish through his unbelief. For a 1621 oil painting of the same subject, see David M. Stone, Guercino: cataloge completo die dipinti n. 73, p. 95 or Stone, Guercino: Master Draftsman, fig. 10a, p. 24, where it is accompanied by one of the preparatory drawings, p. 25. The painting, like our drawing, shows Christ, St. Thomas, St. Peter, and additional disciples (in this case, 2). The drawing in Stone, which differs significantly from the painting, shows only Christ and St. Thomas. Image size: 264x204mm. Price: $79, 500.

In July 2010, one of Guercino's paintings sold at Christie's London for $6,696,240; the high price for one of his drawings at auction is $221,400 (Sotheby's, London, July 2006), and since 1990, 15 of his drawings have sold at auction for over $100,000.
Guercino, attributed, St. Peter. Red chalk drawing on laid paper laid down on a support sheet of laid paper with no watermark, c. 1639-50. David M. Stone, Guercino: cataloge completo die dipinti illustrates 13 paintings featuring St. Peter and dating from 1618 to 1650. Our drawing seems most likely to have been a study for St. Peter's repentance for his denial of Jesus while Jesus was being questioned by the Sahedrin (see Matthew 26: 69-76 below); see especially Stone 159 (1639), 219 (1647), and 256 (1650), all of which feature St. Peter weeping alone or in company with the Virgin Mary (219). or Stone, Guercino: Master Draftsman, fig. 10a, p. 24, where it is accompanied by one of the preparatory drawings, p. 25. Image size: 264x204mm. Price: $45,000.
 "Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said, ‘You also were with Jesus the Galilean.’ But he denied it before all of them, saying, ‘I do not know what you are talking about.’ When he went out to the porch, another servant-girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, ‘This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.’Again he denied it with an oath, ‘I do not know the man.’ After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, ‘Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.’ Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, ‘I do not know the man!’ At that moment the cock crowed. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: ‘Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly" (Matthew 26: 69-76).
Guercino, attributed, St. Paul. Brown chalk drawing on laid paper with no watermark laid down upon a heavy sheet of laid paper with an irregularly-drawn decorated border, perhaps for mounting in an album. St. Paul sits at a desk, writing one of his epistles, the sword of his martyrdom leaning against the table upon which he works; an inkpot sits by his book within easy reach. The same sword is visible in Guercino's large 1644 oil painting of St. Paul in the Cuppini Collection in Verona (see David M. Stone, Guercino: cataloge completo die dipinti [Cantini 1991], n. 188 on p. 203). The elaborately-feathered quill pen that St. Paul uses seems to be, if not the same, then at least very similar, although the treatment of the saint is different (in the painting he faces to the left at a 45 degree angle and is much more heavily bearded). Image size: 208x279mm. Price: $50,000.
Guercino, attributed, The Rape of Europa. Pen and ink and wash on cream laid paper. This sheet offers us two quick sketches: the bottom 2/3 of the sheet shows Europa sitting on the back of a bull (the disguised Jove); the upper part of the sheet shows a seated figure–apparently a study for the moment that Europa, whose face suggests that she is in ecstasy at some vision she alone sees, realizes exactly who is carrying her through the ocean's vastness. The top part is a quick sketch exploring a revised expression on Europa's face from that on the heavily worked drawing beneath it. Image size: 115x105mm. Price: $27,500.

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