A Neapolitan Woman, about 1780s or 1790s
Giovanni Battista Lusieri (Italian, about 1755–1821)
Watercolor and brush and black ink over graphite on laid paper
Purchase, Museum Art Fund 1965.28

How much will it cost? $1,750


This drawing was once owned by Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin—the same man of “Elgin Marbles” fame (or is that infamy?). When he wasn’t collecting ancient art, the Earl served as a patron of Giovanni Battista Lusieri, an Italian artist admired for his precise watercolors and panoramic views of Naples. This carefully rendered study of a Neapolitan peasant woman probably served as one of Lusieri’s stock figures that populated his larger, finished paintings. Dark stains mar the white paper background and distract from our appreciation of the beautiful figure herself. The watercolor pigments and black ink seem stable in tests, which will allow the conservator to bathe the drawing, before drying it between blotter paper or on a suction table. Heavy paper tape used to repair an old tear on the left edge will be removed and replaced with thinner Japanese tissue, and the surrounding sheet will be smoothed flat.