IU, unbound s. b. r. "J. Basire sculpt. 1768"; inscr. b. l. "Pietro da Cortona delt."; inscr. b. c. "Apud CR Editm."; inscr. verso c. in pencil "76 [circled]" CRE BASIRE, James; (English; 1730-1802) PUB ROGERS, Charles; (English; 1711-1784) AFTER PIETRO DA CORTONA (Pietro Berrettini); (Italian; 1596-1669) This unbound volume is part of William Hunter's original bequest. Published by Charles Rogers (1711-1784), an eminent eighteenth century collector, it consists of 112 prints accompanied by introductory texts on the artists represented. It highlights the wealth of old master drawings held in contemporary private British collections and is among the most impressive art historical writings of 18th century England. This drawing is one of 42 from Rogers' own collection which was one of the best in the country.
Scilurus was King of the Scythians, an ancient Iranian people. Realising he would soon die he brought his four sons together. Taking a bundle of small javelins he asked them each to try and break the bundle in half. When all had failed, Scilurus took the bundle and snapped each javelin one by one, demonstrating that while unity brought strength, division brought weakness.
Pietro da Cortona, one of the three leading artists of the Roman Baroque, was a prolific draughtsman whose style was influenced by Raphael and Annibale Caracci. Eighteenth century French connoisseur Mariette commented on how rare complete drawings by Cortona were, most of them being sketches. This is the only drawing Pietro da Cortona represented in the volume.