The Accademia Nazionale di San Luca’s Historical Archive conserves several materials by Tommaso Minardi received in different ways. The Album of the Apostles is among these materials, it is artist’s bequest. The album currently contains 103 drawings: three of the drawings represent Christ; the remaining 100 are all connected with apostles, martyrs or prophets.
Tommaso Minardi is a painter, he studies in Rome and his skill as a draughtsman gained him the appointment in 1822 as professor of drawing at the Accademia di San Luca.
It is dedicated to enhancing the academic mission of the Academy and promotes the reform for academic teaching in which more space is left to artistic invention.
Jesus Christ, extending a benediction and holding an open book in his left hand, dated 1850, is the only coloured watercolour in the series, and is also unique in featuring a landscape.
Jesus Christ, crowned with thorns and exposing his is wounds; at his feet, two angels kneeling in prayer, each holding a candelabra, is inspired by Lorenzo Lotto and is notable for the quality of the drapery. The drawing is dated 1840.
St Lawrence, holding his gridiron in his right hand and a martyr’s palm in his left hand, with St Paul, who is holding the Gospel in his right hand and a sword in his left hand is one of the few drawings to feature more than one figure. Curiously, it also features two different technical approaches. The figure of St Lawrence is more delicate, with shading less accentuated than that of the more sculptural figure of St Paul.
This St. Luke the Evangelist with his bull is the only one of the drawings that reveals any resemblance to certain to relate to Bertel Thorvaldsen’s decoration of the Vor Frue Kirke in Copenhagen. Thorvaldsen was commissioned to decorate the interior with statues of Jesus Christ and the apostles and all sculptures were completed in Rome.
Inside the album there are two drawing, St. Peter seen standing and holding the keys to heaven in his right hand together with the Gospel and St James the Great, in meditation before the crucifix, to have been used for the tempera, in the Quirinale, The Mission of the Apostles. St. Peter seen standing is datable between 1818 and 1820 and it is made with pen and watercolor ink.
This St James the Great, in meditation before the crucifix is the other drawing that Minardi uses for the realization of the tempera (Mission of the Apostles) for the throne room (now the Room of Ambassadors) of the Palazzo Quirinale, paiting in 1864.
Minardi has left many sheets, including finished drawings, preparatory studies, visual notes of sacred, historical and mythological subjects. St Paul, pointing with his right hand and, with his left hand, holding an open copy of the Gospel and a sword is initialled and dated, bottom-right, in pen: TM 1842.
St Paul, standing on a pedestal, with a sword in his right hand and the Gospel in his left hand, is the only sheet in the album that suggests an intended sculpture, given the positioning of the apostle on a pedestal and the heavily accentuated background shading.
One of the few sheets with more equal figure is St. John the Baptist, St. Bartholomew and St. Paul. The drawing is made with pen and watercolor ink with white highlights on pencil traces.
St. Matthew raising the gospel heavenwards, with his angel at his feet is another of the rare sheets with more than one character. St Mark and his lion, on the left, in the background. The drawing is dated 1835
The drawing St Paul, with a sword in his right hand and a closed copy of the Gospel in his left hand runs across two leaves and it is dated, bottom-left, in pen: 1839. In the top right-hand corner features a pencil sketch of the apostle’s head