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This swiftly rendered little landscape may have been Annibale's parody of some florid description of a sunrise, visualizing its verbal imagery to humorous effect, much as his well-known drawing at Windsor Castle ridicules the composition of Tintoretto's Annunciation in the Scuola di San Rocco by showing how bizarre the scene becomes when viewed from a slightly different angle.1 Nor are these the only examples of Annibale using drawings to deflate the pretensions of others. The most famous instance, perhaps, is when he reminded his pompous older brother Agostino of their humble origins with a drawing of their parents with needle, thread, and scissors: "Remember, Agostino, that you're a tailor's son."2
As it has all the earmarks of Annibale's late pen style, Loisel Legrand was undoubtedly right to place the Landscape with Smiling Sunrise in the early seventeenth century. The closest parallels are found in the pen sketches Annibale executed around 1603-1604 in preparation for the small mythological scenes on the walls of the Farnese Gallery. The Hercules and the Hydra exhibits exactly the same shorthand for trees: two short straight lines for the trunk, which supports a cloudlike, merely adumbrated crown, and a horizontal squiggle or zigzag to suggest the tree's lower part and its shadow.3 A few flowing lines, quickly traced, indicate the ground, as in many of Annibale's landscapes.
Whether this landscape was satirical or not, Loisel Legrand has noted
Annibale's penchant for solar themes in his last years, as in another small
landscape sketch at Windsor Castle, where Sol appears behind the hills as a
giant figure, his head crowned with rays,4 or the unprecedented
sunset landscapes in London (cat. 95) and Stuttgart.5
Carel van Tuyll
1. Windsor Castle, Royal Library, inv. 1841; Wittkower 1952, no. 438; Oxford and London 1996-1997, no. 94.
2. Bellori 1976, 82 (1672, 71).
3. Louvre inv. 7194; Martin 1965, 276, no. 146, fig. 265.
4. Windsor Castle, Royal Library, inv. 1994; Wittkower 1952, no. 421.
5. Thiem 1977, 112, no. 227 (from the Ellesmere collection; sale, London, Sotheby's, 11 July 1972, no. 74).
Everard Jabach (in both his "first" and "second" collections); Pierre Crozat (sale, Paris, 10 April-13 May 1741, part of no. 510 or no. 512); P.-J. Mariette (Lugt 1852) (sale, Paris, 15 November 1775, no. 316); acquired by "Lachaise"; Ch.-P. de Saint-Morys; confiscated during the French Revolution as émigré property, 1793; entered the Louvre in 1796 - 1797 (Lugt 1955), inv. 7485
Paris 1961, no. 105; Paris 1994, no. 62, repr.
Arquié-Bruley, Labbé, and Bicart-Sée 1987, 2: 167.