Contents

Preface

This catalogue presents those drawings that I consider to be by Rosso or to be copies of lost drawings by him.  They are arranged in what appears to be their chronological order and numbered with the prefix: D.  The entry number is also its LINK REFERENCE [D.1].  In two entries the number is followed by: Rosso?, indicating a degree of uncertainty about the attribution of these works that are also recognized as copies.  In two other cases the number is followed by the self-evident designations: (REVERSED COPY) and (COUNTERPROOF).  The indication: (COPY?) after the number signifies some doubt as to the autograph state of the drawing; (COPY) follows the number of those drawings that are certainly copies of lost drawings, with: (COPIES) used when the lost work is preserved in several repetitions.  The title or description of the drawing (recto and, when necessary, verso), an indication of its purpose, if known, and its documented or assigned date, are followed by its location, city and collection and its number within the collection.  The illustration link is preceded by: Fig.

The basic data of each drawing are indicated: media, dimensions in centimeters, height by width, special details of its condition, indication if laid down and if there is or is not a watermark (wm.), or if this is not known (wm.?), with a description of the watermark and reference to Briquet, 1923, followed by the location and transcription of inscriptions on the drawing, backing, and mount, recto and verso. LINK REFERENCES preceded by Fig. are to full illustrations of the catalogued works and to details, in black and white (bw) and in color.  Additional links are to comparative and supplementary illustrations. The PROVENANCE gives references to Lugt, 1921, and Lugt, Supplément, 1956, for the collectors’ marks. The LITERATURE on the drawing is presented chronologically (see BIBLIOGRAPHICAL ABBREVIATIONS) with brief indications of authors’ opinions and comments. The text of each entry deals primarily with the issues of attribution and date.  (Some preparatory drawings are also discussed in the entries on the works to which they are related in the Catalogue of Paintings [P.].) COPY or COPIES of surviving original works give the same kinds of information as for those drawings. PRINTS after Rosso’s drawings give references to the Catalogue of Prints after Rosso’s Designs (E.).  A drawing made as the model for a print is referred to by Vasari’s term as a disegno di stampa. DOCUMENTS for the frescoes planned for the church of S. Maria delle Lagrime in Arezzo are fully transcribed in the Preface to the entries on the drawings made for them (D.31-34). Notes accompany each entry separately. Circumstances unlike those that secured the history of Rosso’s Italian paintings, if not so well those done in France, created a very different situation for the recognition of Rosso’s drawings.  While most of the major paintings have been identified by Vasari’s citations, their original locations, and documents, the drawings have far less evidence in support of their authenticity and date.  The artist’s frequent change of workplace and the circumstances behind these moves were serious obstacles to the survival of his works on paper.  Few drawings were probably taken with him when he quickly fled the Sack of Rome in 1527 and there is no record, like that of the safe keeping of the Dead Christ now in Boston (P.18), for securing the drawings for him.  It is not clear that many of his drawings that he accumulated in Italy went with him to France in 1530, although the eight autograph Italian drawings in three French collections, including four Gods in Niches and a St. Roch drawing all done in Rome as well as two Aretine drawings, suggest the survival of drawings done in Italy that were in his possession when he died in France.  The sheets remaining in Italy would have been scattered, there having been no single heir to receive them.  An inventory of his possessions left behind when he fled Arezzo in April of 1530 lists 43 drawings, including twenty-eight figure studies confirming Vasari’s comment that rarely a day passed that Rosso did not draw from the nude model.  Only four nude studies survive from his Italian years of the large number that would seem to have been made. The drawings remaining in his studio or studios at his death in France seem not to have been left to a single heir but may have passed from his assistant Francesco Pellegrino or by some other means to printmakers, perhaps to Antonio Fantuzzi at Fontainebleau, and a small number to Pierre Milan in Paris, and used as models for their etchings and engravings in the first half of the 1540s.  Fantuzzi’s etching of Fortune giving Drink to a Young Prince (Fig.E.68) was derived from a lost drawing made for a stucco relief on the west wall of the Gallery of Francis I (Fig.P.22, WestWall, c), a drawing that could have been found in Rosso’s studio.  The Nymph of Fontainebleau (Fig.E.103), begun by Milan from a drawing by Rosso was still unfinished in 1545 when the plate was left with Claude Bernard who commissioned Boyvin to complete it in 1554.  At his death in 1557 Bernard owned 840 impressions of this engraving inscribed Rous. Floren. Inuen.  The print may have been made from two drawings, one of the central oval image, the other of the cartouche that frames it, both of which would have been made as models for their execution in fresco and stucco in the Gallery of Francis I.  Neither survives but their existence is documented by the few surviving impressions of the large number pulled from the engraved plate made from them.  A majority of Rosso’s drawings are known by similar translations into engravings and etchings, the drawings themselves having then been discarded or lost upon their dispersal. The situation with the drawings of Rosso’s exact Florentine contemporary, Pontormo, is wholly different, as described and explained by Janet Cox-Rearick in 1964.1 At Pontormo’s death in 1557, the drawings accumulated by him passed to his nearest relative and remained in Florence “and were not widely dispersed or known outside Florence” where his activity as a painter was entirely concentrated.  By around 1700 the majority of them were in the Medici collection where they remain in the Uffizi, totaling one-hundred and eighty-six sheets.  Seventy other sheets are known outside the Uffizi, twenty-nine in Rome, the rest scattered in twenty-seven different collections.  The total number of drawings by Pontormo, two-hundred and fifty-six, and the concentration of them in the city where he lived and worked, make possible a sense of the full range of his drawings from the very beginning of any study of them. The situation with Rosso’s drawings is significantly otherwise, in the number that have survived, and in the concentration and dispersal of them.  As with Pontormo’s drawings the largest number of Rosso’s drawings is in the Uffizi.  But against Pontormo’s one-hundred and eighty-six sheets there are only eleven autograph works by Rosso in this collection.  The latest of these is an Allegory of the Immaculate Conception (Fig.D.32) made for one of the frescoes planned for the atrium of S. Maria delle Lagrime in Arezzo in 1528 or 1529, shortly before he left for France.  There are no drawings in the Uffizi from the last decade of Rosso’s life.  The Louvre has nine drawings, three of which are recent acquisitions from Rosso’s few years in Rome.  Of the other six one is the Madonna della Misericordia (Fig.D.35a) made in Arezzo in 1529.  Only two are from the years in France and a third, also the most important, the Mars and Venus (Fig.D.42a), was made in Venice for Francis I on the advice of Pietro Aretino and sent to France before Rosso arrived there.  Six drawings are in the British Museum, all complete works of art including the very late Reclining Nude Woman (Fig.D.79a), the only drawing by Rosso that trails off at the figure’s extremities into an unexpected sketchiness. The remainder of the drawings that can be recognized as by Rosso’s hand are distributed singly in fifteen collections plus two sheets in Vienna, seventeen to be added to the twenty-six in the Uffizi, the Louvre, and the British Museum.  Thus there are forty-three drawings by Rosso versus two-hundred and fifty-six by Pontormo as catalogued by Cox-Rearick in 1964. To arrive at this number of autograph drawings by Pontormo Cox-Rearick studied and catalogued an additional three-hundred and seventy-eight drawings that had accumulated under his name.  From this large body of six-hundred and thirty-four sheets Pontormo’s  autograph drawings had to be recognized with the knowledge of the drawings of a sizeable group of other Florentine draughtsmen that worked in the wake of Pontormo’s art.  Always, however, there was that large body of Pontormo’s autograph works that had remained in Florence since his death to provide a foundation for the study of his draughtsmanship. For Rosso there is no large collection of his autograph drawings in a single place or nearly the number of drawings that he must have made in his lifetime.  In the search for drawings it soon became clear that copies of lost drawings had to be seriously taken into account as substitutes for lost sheets.  Copies of Pontormo’s drawings can be important to his oeuvre but they need not be relied upon for an appreciation and assessment of his draughtsmanship.  Copies of lost drawings by Rosso must be seriously taken into account as they make up half of our knowledge of his graphic production. There is only one drawing for a documented painting by Rosso that has always been recognized as autograph, the Standing Male Nude in the Uffizi (Fig.D.7) for the figure of St. Sebastian in the Dei Altarpiece of 1522 (Fig.P.12g).  To this was added by Kusenberg in 1931 the pen study in the Albertina (Fig.D.26A), traditionally ascribed to Michelangelo, for the figure of Christ in the Sansepolcro Pietà (Fig.P.19a).  The acceptance of them depends, of course, on judging that they are not copies of the figures to which they are related but rather life studies that would be reshaped to accommodate them to the style of the altarpieces for which they were made.  It must also be perceived that they are not copies of lost studies, a position that can be held only by the study of other drawings that in their differences from autograph works betray that they are in fact copies.  So, too, then the Seated Nude Woman in Edinburgh (Fig.D.10), which first became known in 1963, can be recognized as a study for the figure of Eve in Rosso’s Fall of Adam and Eve in the Cesi Chapel in S. Maria della Pace in Rome (Fig.P.17c).  While this decision of authenticity might seem to be a mere supposition it is also a trained response made possible by the long study of copies that survive along with the originals of paintings and drawings, as with Rosso’s Madonna della Misericordia (Fig.D.35a), that is mentioned by Vasari as being in his Libro de’disegni, and the exact copy of it (Fig.D.35 Copy, Paris, color), both in the Louvre.  Vasari also mentions a lost cartoon by Rosso for an unexecuted fresco of the Throne of Solomon that is recorded by a drawing in Bayonne (Fig.D.34), a drawing as masterful as the contemporary original Madonna della Misericordia also made in Arezzo in 1529.  The copy in the Louvre (Fig.D.34 Copy, Paris, 1576) of the Bayonne drawing is a far less accomplished drawing than the copy of the other Aretine work, an indication of what further along will be seen of the range of quality of the copies that are considered in this catalogue. Four autograph disegni di stampe are known from which Caraglio in Rome in 1526 engraved four of the twenty Gods in Niches that are mentioned by Vasari: the Pluto in Lyons (Fig.D.17A), the Proserpina (Fig.D.17B) and Mars (Fig.D.17C) in Paris, and the Bacchus in Bayonne (Fig.D.18a).  Graphically these sheets are very similar to the study for the figure of St. Sebastian in the Uffizi.  The Bacchus shows changes in the cancellation of the dog that Caraglio has adopted in his print, further evidence that the drawing is by Rosso and not a copy of the print.  Vasari also mentions an Annunciation that René Boyvin engraved in France after a design by Rosso.  While the print seems not to be by this engraver the drawing that he used survives in the Albertina in Vienna (Fig.D.43a).  It bears a formal inscription to Rosso Fiorentino as does the print.  A very detailed copy of the drawing exists in the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, so accurate that it copies Rosso’s variations in the original drawing.  While the masterful drawing in the Albertina shows the highest level at which Rosso drew, the copy shows a concentration for accuracy that is just enough to destroy the visual drama of the moving original.  The recollection of this difference, and others like it, between an original and copy, is important in the recognition of the originality of certain drawings for which no comparison with a copy can be made.  A case of this kind is Rosso’s Apollo holding a Lyre in the Louvre (Fig.D.76Aa) that years ago, before I had taken fully into account all the copies of Rosso’s drawings that I would eventually see, I thought was a copy.  Then I came to see the varieties of draughtsmanship within this single sheet and the poignancy of Apollo’s expression evolved through several pentimenti that comes with this image of the god holding before him the flayed skin of Marsyas, so different from the joyful god of light of Caraglio’s 1526 Apollo in a Niche (Fig.E.36).  Between this print and the Louvre drawing stands Rosso’s deeply reconsidered interpretation of Ovid’s Apollo and Marsyas story in his Apollo Proclaiming His Victory to the Gods (Fig.D.41a) probably done in Venice in 1530. Over half of the drawings catalogued here as Rosso’s are copies of which the originals have been lost.  Some survive in one copy, others in two or more.  Most of the copies are probably by young artists who knew Rosso, some perhaps by assistants.  The copies related to the frescoes and stuccoes in the Gallery of Francis I may have been made by assistants to be used as preparation for the execution of the finished work.  There are, for example, four copies of a lost drawing for the early version of the Scene of Sacrifice planned for the Gallery of Francis I.  The copy in Göttingen (Fig.D.50A) is a pen line drawing of the entire composition.  In the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts copy (Fig.D.50B) only the left third of the original scene is reproduced but completely with washes and with highlights in white.  Together these two drawings preserve a drawing that would have resembled very closely in its handling the execution of the Annunciation in the Albertina.  A few copies can be identified as having been used as models for prints and were probably made by copyists as disegni di stampe for this purpose.  Where several copies exist of a single lost drawing it is not always possible to tell if all are actually derived from a single lost autograph drawing, as some may be copies of copies, including lost copies.  The copies show a range of quality but collectively present good evidence for the appearance of lost drawings. From comparisons within these frames of reference the oeuvre of drawings for Rosso presented here has been reconstructed.  A number of these additional drawings have already been accepted as Rosso’s with attributions to him that have never been refuted.  In the Uffizi these are the Study for an Altarpiece (Fig.D.4), the Standing Nude Woman (Fig.D.5), the study for St. Sebastian in the Dei Altarpiece already noted, and the Seated Woman in a Niche (Fig.D.11).  The Louvre has several long accepted drawings: St. Roch Distributing His Inheritance to the Poor (Fig.D.13), two of the Gods in Niches and the Madonna della Misericordia, mentioned above.  In the British Museum there are: the Standing Apostle (Fig.D.36a), the Design for a Chapel  (Fig.D.37a), the Design for an Altar (Fig.D.38a), the Seated Male Nude (Fig.D.68a), the Reclining Nude Woman (Fig.D.79a) and the Design for a Tomb (Fig.D.81a). There are four drawings here ascribed to Rosso with some uncertainty and designated: COPY? The Allegory of the Immaculate Conception in Hamburg (Fig.D.30) is known only from a photograph and appears uncertain in the handling of a number of details especially in the upper half of the sheet that may not be as well preserved as the other half.  Both expertly handled and careless in places it could be a version of this composition that the artist gave less attention to than was usual for him even at his least inspired moments.  But a very deft copyist is more likely, one interested in imitating Rosso’s hand and losing his concentration on a variety of details.  However, another possibility exists for this unusual drawing.  The copy could have been enhanced by Rosso himself in the lower half of the sheet, turning a pedestrian exercise into a vital image again.  Another sheet with similar iconography but a different arrangement of figures in St. Petersburg (Fig.D.39) and again known only from a photograph is so badly damaged as to make almost impossible a judgment of its authorship.  Again the image can be recognized as Rosso’s in all of its details but the draughtsmanship is slack, suggesting more a diligent copyist than Rosso himself.  The Last Supper in the Marucelliana (Fig.D.40A) is sharp and precise in its handling of pen and ink and in the masterful touch of the white highlights, and the drawing is well preserved.  The postures and heads of some of the diners are sharply characterized but others are without distinction.  The drawing is not entirely convincing as a depiction of the event it portrays and uncertain in what expression it intends.  It is more likely an autograph work of uncertain intentions than a copy of such a drawing but questioning its authenticity allows for reflection on the strange invention of its venerable subject. The Allegory of the Virgin as the Ark of the Covenant in the British Museum (Fig.D.33Aa) is in all technical and graphic respects a drawing that should be recognized as a work that Rosso did in preparation for the making of the cartoon specifically described by Vasari.  It was done for the same Aretine fresco cycle for which Rosso’s Throne of Solomon in Bayonne was made.  In 1772 that drawing was reproduced as his and has always been accepted as an autograph work.  The delicacy of its penmanship, the precision of its brushwork, and the clarity of its washes have rendered a grandly imagined image of a crowd of diverse people in the following of a bishop who swings his censer of incense before a great throne set at the top of a stairway adorned by small statues of great lions in various poses.  The draughtsmanship is as finely varied as the characterization of the people it brings into view.  For all of its credibility as a work by Rosso in exactly the same mode the comparable Allegory of the Virgin in London falls short of its perfection.  The latter drawing must be a copy much like that of Rosso’s surviving original Madonna della Misericordia.  The question might be why the originals were copied so precisely.  For a while it seems possible that Rosso made them himself to leave a record of them when he chose to take the originals with him when he left Arezzo.  If not then this assignment was given to a very skilled assistant to carry out. Two drawings will need more consideration and evidence to secure their attribution to Rosso.  One is the Christ in Limbo in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (Fig.D.40B).  While it would certainly be a copy of an otherwise unknown sheet, as suggested by Philip Pouncey in 1959, and its imagery can in many respects be related to others surely by Rosso the draughtsmanship of the drawing is so ragged that it leaves little proof of recording the finesse that an original drawing by Rosso would have.  Kusenberg’s attribution to Rosso of the Visitation or Vertumnus and Pomona from the Robert Lebel Collection and now in the Louvre has been largely accepted although not by me at first and then questioned by Franklin in 1988 when I came to recognize it as an autograph work.  It is a drawing that may show the limits of looseness of Rosso’s draughtsmanship whose penultimate state would be the Reclining Nude Woman in the British Museum (Fig.D.79a).  Further proof of his authorship should be discovered before it is used as primary evidence for the attribution of other drawings to him. Quite different positions are taken for two drawings generally held as copies that seem on long familiarity to be autograph works by Rosso.  Both are related to documented commissions.  The Allegory of the Immaculate Conception in the Uffizi (Fig.D.32) composed within a quarter-circle has for a long while been recognized as a drawing related to one of the frescoes planned for the atrium of the church of S. Maria delle Lagrime in Arezzo.  In 1903 Berenson did not know this connection and thought the drawing was from the School of Rosso and then in 1938, while accepting Kusenberg’s observation of this relationship in 1931, saw it as a copy after Rosso.  Ferri had already seen in 1917 that it was for this project as described by Vasari and that it was an autograph work.  Its status as by Rosso’s own hand was often maintained but it was also regularly considered a copy, as by Becherucci, probably, in 1944 and by Barocchi in 1950.  I agreed with this judgment in 1964.  However, already in 1960, Emiliani brought up Bronzino as its draughtsman, a possibility accepted by Ragghianti Collobi in 1974 and Cecchi in 1981.  For Darragon in 1983 it was a copy, for Franklin in 1994 possibly by Rosso, or a copy. There is another version of this drawing in the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris (Fig.D.32 Copy, Paris, Beaux-Arts) that is inferior in its draughtsmanship but slightly more complete in a few areas where the Uffizi drawing is less detailed.  An initial conclusion could see both drawings as copies of a lost original with the somewhat clumsy Paris work simply a more diligently complete reproduction.  The quality of the Uffizi drawing is responsible for the thought that it is a copy by Bronzino, as I was inclined to believe.  In the end, however, this conclusion is unnecessary when it can more plausibly be seen as by Rosso himself.  There are pentimenti throughout the Uffizi drawing most of which have been eliminated in the Paris version by the draughtsman choosing the contour that satisfied him.  In that version many of the unfinished parts of the Uffizi drawing have been completed but everywhere from the evidence of faint outlines visible in its model.  The unusual aspect of the Uffizi drawing is Rosso’s emphatic intention to join the sculptural aspect of the Medici Chapel figures in the conception of his own grand images of Adam and Eve, the Virgin, and the paired Diana and Apollo with Michelangelo’s dense graphic style.2 This is also what appears in the slightly earlier Study for the Lower Half of the Christ in Glory in Rome (Fig.D.29).  It is not copied from Rosso’s painting in Città di Castello and shows a conception of the painting that would be altered when the final design of the altarpiece was worked out.  The draughtsmanship is of a remarkable delicacy that recalls the finesse of the Standing Male Nude made as a study for the figure of St. Sebastian in the Dei Altarpiece.  What is unusual in this black chalk drawing is the extensive use of red chalk for the head of the standing woman at the left. Figures in Rosso’s red chalk drawings are often first laid out faintly in black chalk and completed in red chalk as in the Madonna della Misericordia (Fig.D.35a) and the St. Jerome (Fig.D.45a).  In the Rome drawing black chalk is the primary medium and then without precedent red chalk is used for the full description of one detail.  No other autograph drawing shows this.  Nor is the appearance of a detail in one color chalk in a black chalk drawing a practice of any contemporary Florentine draughtsman.  Later in the century the use of both color chalks in a single composition is used occasionally but integrated pictorially.  In this study for Rosso’s altarpiece it appears as an attempt at something new.  So it is not critically possible to deny its novelty to Rosso especially with an artist of such originality in other respects. The Catalogue of Rejected Drawings discusses forty of the most interesting works that have been attributed to Rosso that I do not accept as his.  This is far fewer than the number assigned to him and considered in the major European collections that have been formed over several centuries.  Since the early years of the last century many of these drawings have been reconsidered and different attributions recorded and published, eliminating the need for further consideration of them here.  The seventy-six drawings in the Uffizi and slightly more than forty-three in the Louvre are somewhat less than half of the number of drawings that were studied, including a few sheets in American collections, to achieve an oeuvre of eighty-nine drawings for Rosso, of which half are known only from copies of lost original sheets. Among the rejected drawings there are two for which I would wish to find clear evidence of who did them if proof of Rosso’s authorship is not found.  Nude Men in Combat and Repose (Fig.RD.6) presents small figures alone and in groups that might represent a mode of sketching that could account for how Rosso began to consider the variety of figures in his pictures and in the Roman prints.  But no such drawing is known that is related to a documented work.  The so-called Pompeian Scene (Fig.RD.9) can be compared with the background episode in the Volterra Deposition (Fig.P.9i) and yet there is no drawing that shows that Rosso drew on paper in the laconic manner of the small painted figures in his altarpiece. Without the necessary autograph comparative material the inclination to think that a formerly unknown drawing is by Rosso is very often the result of a lack of knowledge of what works are surely by him.  The loss of so many of his drawings and the understandable but conflicting desire to enlarge the oeuvre of an artist of his genius are frustrating circumstances.  It is necessary to recognize that a deep understanding of Rosso’s achievements depends upon the confidence that is had in the works that have been assigned to him.


1 Cox-Rearick, 1964, 7-13. 2 On the possibility that the Uffizi drawing is the “studio d’ignudi” mentioned by Vasari as a “cosa rarissima” related to the frescoes planned for S. Maria delle Lagrime in Arezzo, see L.25. There is also some chance that it entered the Uffizi from the Teofilo Torri in Arezzo, on which see L.30, n. 1.