Souls in Purgatory Supplicating the Madonna of Loreto, c. 1618
pen, brush and brown ink with brown wash over graphite on buff laid paper, laid down on wove paper
32.2 x 22.4 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 6837)
This compositional sketch represents angels revealing to some agitated souls in Purgatory the votive image of the Madonna of Loreto. The wooden sculpture of the Virgin and Child dressed up by the faithful with rich clothing and jewels as well as a papal tiara is part of a pilgrim's shrine located in the Marche region. A related drawing of the same design is in the Albertina in Vienna, though it is not certain for which altarpiece they were intended. The exuberant and dramatic style is of an earlier phase in Guercino's career, prior to his move to Rome.