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    Ground view of the National Gallery's glass pyramids looking towards the East Building

    Research Reports

    Fulvia Zaninelli
    Center 43

    Fulvia Zaninelli

    Albums of Drawings and Social Networks in Giovanni Grosso of the Swiss Guards Standing before a View of Rome

    Swiss 17th Century, Francesco Villamena, Giovanni Grosso of the Swiss Guards Standing before a View of Rome, watercolor over black ink on laid paper, Gift of Arturo and Corinne Cuéllar, 2001.114.1

    Stemming from preliminary research on material evidence conducted on a 17th-century watercolor drawing at the National Gallery of Art, my project interrogates the purpose of this drawing while also addressing questions related to identity, authorship, and networks of makers of art (printmakers), as well as the currency value of drawings in the public sphere of business and social transactions (tour guides, antiquarians, academicians), and therefore the temporality of antiquities tourism. The National Gallery’s anonymous drawing is possibly a tracing from a print by the artist Francesco Villamena, a member of the Accademia di San Luca in Rome. Although debated, the subject of this drawing is generally identified according to his Italianized name, Giovanni Alto/Grosso (b. 1577 in Lucerne as Hans Rudolph Heinrich Hoch, d. 1660 in Rome), a Swiss guard beginning in 1605. Alto/Grosso was also a popular tour guide (cicerone) for foreign visitors to Rome from German-speaking nations within the Holy Roman Empire (oltremontani). A testament to his prestigious social network is represented by his collection of drawings assembled in a four-volume guest book (stammbuch), now in the collections of the Vatican Library (MS Chigi.G.IV-111-114). My research will appear in a coauthored essay in the 2024 issue of Facture, the biennial conservation journal of the National Gallery of Art.