Study of Triton Blowing a Conch Shell (recto); Partial Study of an Arm (verso)

Annibale Carracciabout 1600

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

A nude triton displays his rippling, muscular figure as he turns to blow a conch shell announcing a special event. His powerful sculptural form and sense of monumentality derive from ancient Roman sculpture and Renaissance art, especially Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ignudi, while the use of black and white chalks on blue-gray paper reflects Agostino Carracci's interest in Venetian art of the 1500s.

Agostino Carracci made this drawing as a study for a triton in his fresco, Thetis Borne to the Wedding Chamber of Peleus, also known as Galatea. The Carracci brothers began work on the decoration of the Galleria Farnese in Rome, including this fresco, in 1597. For centuries, this cycle of paintings influenced artists as much as Michelangelo's Sistine ceiling.

Beginning with drawing from life and understanding anatomy, the Carracci focused on painting the human figure. Their drawings of the nude maintained monumental proportions while broadly sketching the body's essential structure; combining robust energy with soft, rhythmic contours.

The fragment of an arm on the verso of this drawing was trimmed from a study of a triton now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, proving that this sheet was once part of a larger one.

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  • Title: Study of Triton Blowing a Conch Shell (recto); Partial Study of an Arm (verso)
  • Creator: Annibale Carracci
  • Date: about 1600
  • Physical Dimensions: 40.6 x 24.1 cm (16 x 9 1/2 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Black and white chalk on blue paper (recto); black chalk (verso)
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Object Type: Drawing
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 84.GB.48
  • Markings: Markings: (Verso) collection mark of Sir Bruce Ingram (L.1405a).
  • Inscription: Secondary Inscription: (Recto) at bottom right corner, inscribed "25" in black ink; (verso) inscribed "32" followed by a third number in graphite.
  • Display Location: Not currently on view
  • Department: Drawings
  • Culture: Italian
  • Classification: Drawings