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The Madonna of the Rosary
On the left of the Snite drawing is the crowned Madonna sitting in a cloud with a rosary in her right hand and the Christ Child on her lap. Christ looks up to her as he gives the rosary held in his hand to Saint Dominic, who is the bearded and robed figure kneeling before them. Above the Madonna's head are three putti, two of which hold a crown. A winged angel hovers in the upper center of the drawing, holding branches in each of its hands, which could be from a rose or the Tree of Jesse. In a separate scene on the right, a crowd of people form before a balcony upon which the robed Saint Dominic preaches, an appropriate action for the founder of the Order of Preachers. Throughout the work there is underdrawing that for the most part does not correspond to the finished work on top. One identifiable pentimento is a head in between the finished face and right hand of Saint Dominic.
The arched shape of the drawing suggests that it is a preparatory study for an altarpiece in a Dominican church or chapel. The purpose of such a work could be seen as a Counter Reformation effort to rekindle faith in Church teachings through the intercession of the Madonna and the use of the rosary. The drawing depicts the supernatural manifestation that Saint Dominic supposedly experienced in the church of Notre Dame de Dreche, near Albi.
from Coleman, Seminar in Italian Drawings (Notre Dame, 2009)