A Female Saint Contemplating a Crucifix

Giovanni Antonio Guardiabout 1745

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

This heavily draped figure may be Saint Mary Magdalene or a monastic saint. An energetic tangle of line represents a crucifix floating above her, surrounded by angels. In the lower left lies one of her attributes, a skull, representing penitence and the transience of life.

Antonio Guardi approached this drawing with the same fluid freedom he demonstrated in his paintings. He began with an ample red chalk underdrawing, followed with loosely applied pale reddish-brown washes. He then reinforced these areas with occasional broad accents of pen and added energy with liberal touches of white gouache highlights. The fluency of the wash combined with the energy of his handling conveys a sense of luminosity, while the startling chiaroscuro effects typify Guardi's approach to light and shadow. He probably made this drawing as a study for a small devotional painting, though it may also have simply been an exercise in drawing.


  • Title: A Female Saint Contemplating a Crucifix
  • Creator: Giovanni Antonio Guardi
  • Date Created: about 1745
  • Location Created: Italy
  • Physical Dimensions: 29.2 × 21 cm (11 1/2 × 8 1/4 in.)
  • Type: Drawing
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Pen and brown ink with light brown wash, heightened with white bodycolor, over red chalk
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 96.GA.322
  • Culture: Italian
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Creator Display Name: Attributed to Giovanni Antonio Guardi (Italian, 1699 - 1760)
  • Classification: Drawings (Visual Works)

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