Contents

P.19 Pietà

P.19 Pietà

Late 1527–1528

Borgo Sansepolcro, San Lorenzo (S. Croce).

Panel, 270 x 201.1

Fig.P.19a
Fig.P.19b bw
Fig.P.19c bw, head
Fig.P.19d grotesque head in background

Fig.P.19e self-portrait

(The following remarks on condition and color are written from notes last made in front of the picture in 1969, before it was cleaned and exhibited in Pittura Vasariana dal 1532 al 1554 in the Sottochiesa di S. Francesco, Arezzo, in the fall of 1981; see Maetske below).  The panel has a number of vertical cracks, resulting in paint loss, some running the entire length of the panel, the worst passing through the Virgin’s left eye.  There are many small losses throughout the panel.  Giglioli, 1921, 22, reports that the picture was restored in 1914 by Domenico Fiscoli.  Shearman, 1957, II, 229, n. 72, speaks of the painting as in unsatisfactory condition in 1953 when it was in the basement of the old museum in Arezzo.  It was again in San Lorenzo hanging unframed on the side wall to the right of the high altar in February 1959, by which time it seems to have received some restoration.  By April 1969, when it was in its frame above the high altar, it may have been lightly cleaned.  Nyholm, 1977 (see below), reported that it had been recently cleaned.  In spite of its less than perfect condition, the picture has a surface that in many areas gives the appearance of being very much as Rosso painted it; see, for example, the garments of the two women in the foreground, and especially the thinly painted decoration of the garment worn by the figure at Christ’s head.  Prior to its exhibition in Arezzo in 1981 it was cleaned by Carlo Guido (see Maetske, below).  When I saw the picture in September 1994 it looked splendid and I was struck by the brilliancy of it.  Franklin, 1994, 174, 177, noted that it is laboriously finished on a golden priming layer and in surprising good condition.

The penumbra throughout the picture gives all the flesh tones a grayish lavender cast.  Only the highlighted area of the woman’s face at the lower left is flesh colored.  Christ’s body is a brownish gray-lavender; his beard and hair are reddish.  The young man at Christ’s head wears a gray-cream tight fitting garment covered with a tan pattern; his sash is dark green.  The woman at the lower left wears a bluish green dress having orange sleeves with white highlights and tending toward green in the shadows.  A “gold” clasp is on her back.  Across her back is a yellow green sash.  Dark brown drapery with yellow highlights are over her legs with a passage of gray drapery to the left over her thigh.  The woman at the lower right wears a red-orange skirt moving to dark tan in the shadows; her blouse is white-yellow; her sleeves are gray with orange bands.  Her hair is gray-brown.  The bald man at Christ’s feet has tan-orange drapery, and a gray sleeve with dark green shadows; his sash is gray.  The Virgin is dressed in dark green; her cuff is yellow-tan.  The turban on the man to the left of the Virgin is red-orange, and constitutes the brightest passage in the picture; his cloak is green.  The figure on the ladder at the upper left has drapery over his hips that is orange in the light and dark olive green in the shadows; the sash across his hips and flying to the left is violet-gray.  The sole of his foot is dark orange.  The figure running in from the left has a tan-yellow sleeve and a dark green sash over her back as well as a blue hand crossing it, a bright green sash around her waist; elsewhere her garments are brownish turning to tan. St. John at the far right has red hair; his sleeve is dark green with an orange inset.  The man on the horse above St. John has a green sleeve and tan-orange drapery over his head.  The picture is very dark with areas of intense color emerging into the light and disappearing in the shadow. But nowhere are the highlights very bright or the colors pure.  Each color tends to move toward another color, but all the colors disappear in the penumbra of the scene.  Black and white photographs tend to abstract the picture too much; the picture itself has somewhat more the illusion of an actuality.

DOCUMENTS: The commission of the altarpiece in Borgo Sansepolcro on 23 September 1527 is recorded in A.S.F., Notarile Antecosimiano, ex-A108, Franceso d’Antonio Aggiunti da Borgo San Sepolcro, 1525–1528, fols. 181v–182r:

Supracriptis anno, indictione et pontificatu, et die 23 Septembris [1527].  Actum in civitate Sancti Sepulcri, in capella S. Leonardi, presentibus etc. domino Stefano Francisci Stefani et Batista alias Saragilio magistri Bernardinis de civitate S.Sepulcri, testibus etc.

Franciscus olim Angeli Sindachelli, de civitate S. Sepulcri, prior et eo nomine Societatis et hominum Sancte Crucis, una cum domino Antonio Cintio Laurentii de Bernardinis, Pompeo Baldini de Gratianis, Lattantio Iohannisbaptiste de Follis et ser Francisco Antonii de Adiunctis, eorum nominibus et nomine Guidonis Francisci Gerardi, pro quo etc., omnibus nominibus dicte Societatis S. Crucis ellecti et deputati per consilium Societatis predicte ad infracripta fienda et per [illegible words] sponte etc. concorditer et unanimiter etc., pro dicta societate et successoribus in ea, dederunt et locaverunt ad pingendum laborerium ac tabulam dicte Societatis, que pingendi [sic = pingi] debet in ornamento altaris maioris dicti loci, domino Rubeo Iacopi Gasparis de civitate Florentie, pictoem, presentem honorifice et conducentum pro se, eius heredibus etc., ad pingendum et picturam honorifice et convenienter faciendem, tabulam predictam pro dicta societate.  In qua quidam tabula et pictura pingere debeat honorifice Corpus sive inmago Domini nostri, videlicet deposto de Cruce cum aliis figuris et imaginibus que veniunt et interveniunt in misterio ac depositione predicta, et toto misterio esse debeat cum finis colloribus et alias ornamentis condecentibus [fol. 182r].  Et hoc fecerunt pro pretio florenorum 45 auri largorum, sibi solvendorum per dictam Societatem hoc modo, videlicet nunc ad eius petitionem, in principio dicti operis ducatos quindecim auri; ducatos quindecim auri hinc et per tempus totius mensis Ianuarii proxime venturi; et alios quindecim ducatos auri pro reliquo dicti pretii solvere promixit dictus prior pro dicta Societate et in eius officio successoribus, finita opera ac laborerio sive tabula predicta, et postea ad eius petitionem et voluntatem.  Dictusque dominus Rossus promixit et donavit ac amore Dei reliquit et ex nunc dimictit dicte Societate illud plus quod operam predictam [sic] ascenderet ad maiorem pretium dictis ducatis 45 etc. Que omnia etc. pena dupli dicte quanitatis etc. applicanda pro dimidia rectori etc. pro alia parti observanti etc.  Obligaverunt etc. Renuntiaverunt etc. Iuraverunt etc. Rogantes etc. Dantes etc. guarantigiam etc.

Incontinenti, dicta die, loco et testibus supracriptis.  Dominus Antonius Cintius de Berardinis et Lattantius Iohannisbaptiste de Follis et Rafael olim Michelangeli Daholle [ = Da Colle] de civitate predicta, sponte etc., per se etc. heredes etc. promiserunt et convenerunt suprascripto priori Societatis S. Crucis, presenti, stipulanti et legittime recipienti pro suprascripta Societate etc. casu quo dictus dominus Rossus pictor antedictus non conduceret ad finem ac non perficeret dictum laborerium et picturam ac tabulam sibi supra locatem aut quod esset inpedita [sic] in complendo eam, tunc et eo casu se obligaverunt reddere et restituere dicte Societati illas quanitatis denariorum usque in illo die receptorum ab eadem Societate per ipsum dominum Rossum, sive dictus Rafael promixit ipsam tabulam et misterium in ea pingendum integraliter finire et complere suis sumptibus, quia consensus prestitit condutioni predicte et mediator extitit ad eam locandam ac locari faciendum dicto domino Rubeo.  Et ita convenerunt omnes prenominati dicto Francisco priori presenti et stipulanti pro dicta Societate ut supra etc. et in solidum quilibet eorum predicta observare promisit et convenit Societati iamdicte etc. Que omnia etc. pena dupli dicte quantitatis etc. applicanda pro dimidia rectori etc., pro alia parti observanti etc.  Que pena etc., qua pena etc. Obligaverunt etc.  Renunciaverunt etc. Iuraverunt etc. Rogantes etc. Dantes etc. guarantigiam etc.2

The following document of 1583 records the opinion of Angelo Peruzzi, Bishop of Sarsino, upon visiting Borgo Sansepolcro on 18 July that year, that the painting was indecent, and his request that it be removed: Archivo Vescovile in Sansepolcro, Visitatio Civitatis et diocesis Burghi Sancti Sepulcri factta al Reverendissimo visitatore Apostholico — 1583, fol.83v:

Altare Crucifixi, quod est Societatis predicte, licet sit lapideum cum suo altare portatile decente, et munitum tot aliis candelabris, et pallio, habeat picturas valde indecentes; proptera ordinavit altare ipsum debere ornare Icona pulchra, et imagines, qua’inibi habere valde indecentes, removere.3

PROVENANCE: As indicated in the document of 23 September 1527 Rosso’s altarpiece was painted for the high altar of the church of the Confraternity of S. Croce in Borgo Sansepolcro.  Although the picture is again on the high altar of S. Croce (called more usually S. Lorenzo, or the Chiesa dell’Orfane or Orfanelle),4 it is no longer contained within the elaborate wooden frame and setting of wooden choir and choir stalls that were commissioned in February of 1523 and almost finished in September of 1524 (on which see below).  Rosso’s picture is surmounted by a lunette showing God-the-Father with Angels by Raffaellino del Colle, discussed below.  Maetske (see below) stated that the stucco frame into which the Pietà and the lunette are now inserted is of the nineteenth century.

PREPARATORY DRAWING: Vienna, Albertina, no. Sc. R. 138, Inv. no. 104, R. 140, Study of the Figure of Christ (D.26A).

LITERATURE: After recounting Rosso’s flight from Rome after the Sack and speaking of his stay in Perugia with Domenico Alfani, Vasari tells that it was Rosso’s intention to go to Borgo Sansepolcro to join Bishop Tornabuoni who has also fled from Rome.

Vasari, 1550, 800–801 (Vasari-Ricci, IV, 247), continues: “Era in quel tempo al Borgo Raffaello da Colle pittore creato di Giulio Romano, che nella sua partia aveva preso a fare per Santa Croce, compagnia di Battuti, una tavola per poco prezzo: de laquale come amorevole si spogliò, e la diede al Rosso: accioche in quella città rimanesse qualche reliquia di suo.  Perilche la compagnia si risentì. Ma il Vescovo gli fece molte comodità.  Mentre che il Rosso lavorava questa tavola prese nome; e in quel luogo ne fu tenuto gran conto, e la tavola messa in opera in Santa Croce, nellaquale fece un deposto di croce, ilquale è cosa molta rara e bella, per avere osservato ne’colori un certo che tenebroso, per lo eclisse che fu nella morte di Christo; per essere stata lavorata con grandissima diligenza:…”

The same, with only minor changes, in Vasari, 1568, II, 208 (Vasari-Milanesi, V, 163).

Farulli, 1713, 76–77, paraphrases Vasari but gives no indication of the location of the picture as in San Lorenzo.

Lanzi, 1795–1796, I, 151 (1852, I, 162), as in the church of S. Chiara, and mentions an old copy in the cathedral.  He praises the central group and the somber twilight or nocturnal light in the picture that is worthy of a Flemish artist.  (On the possibility that Lanzi was speaking of a copy of Rosso’s picture, see COPIES, Pinacoteca, below.)

Giacomo Mancini, Memorie di alcuni artefici del disegno…, II, Parte seconda che contiene un’appendice delle più insigni dipinture che si osservano nelle diverse chiese, e pubblici edifici della Città di S. Sepolcro con note relative, Perugia, 1832, 271, as on the high altar of San Lorenzo.

Coleschi, 1886, 178, as on the high altar of San Lorenzo, with a lunette above showing God-the-Father by Raffaello dal Colle.

Giovanni Sacchetti, Sansepolcro, Sansepolcro, 1888, 11, as on the high altar of S. Lorenzo.

Carlo Gamba, “Di alcuni picture poco conosciute della Toscana,” Rivista d’Arte, IV, 1906, 46–47, mentions Rosso’s picture in San Lorenzo and attributes the God-the-Father Blessing between Two Angels in the lunette above to Raffaello del Colle.

Goldschmidt, 1911, 23–24, as in S. Chiara (see COPIES below), and as derived from the Sposalizio of 1523; he speaks of its complex and enclosed structure.

Voss, 1920, 188.

Giglioli, 1921, 21, as on the high altar of San Lorenzo, with God-the-Father and Cherubins above it by Raffaello del Colle.

Colnaghi, 1928, 237, as painted for S. Chiara, with an old copy in the cathedral (see COPIES below).

Dvorak, 1928, 166, as influenced by Sebastiano del Piombo.

Kusenberg, 1931, 31–34. 189–190. ns. 82–87, Pl. XXIII, as showing Rosso’s abandonment of all he learned in Rome and a return to the manner of the Volterra Deposition and the Sposalizio.  Also as with emotionally cold and impassive faces related to demonstrative gestures, but with expressive color and light.

Venturi, IX, 5, 1932, 193, 230, as in San Lorenzo but as painted for S. Chiara (see COPIES , Pinacoteca, below).

Kusenberg, 1935, 62.

Mostra del Cinquecento, 1940, 66.

Salmi, 1940, 80, as probably influenced by the late work of Sebastiano del Piombo.

Sabatini, 1941, 425–426, suggests that the light of an eclipse in the picture may go back to Sebastiano’s Viterbo Pietà, but he believes that this light has suffocated the more genuine chromatic vision of Rosso’s earlier works.

Becherucci, 1944, 30, sees its dense and piled-up forms as weakening its color, and its flashing reverberations as an extraneous formal element.

Mario Salmi, Mostra d’arte sacra della diocesi e della provincia dal sec. XI al XVIII . Onoranza a Guido d’Arezzo (exh. cat.), Arezzo, 1950, 98, no. 302, as painted around 1528–30 with the help of an assistant, and not one of Rosso’s best works.

Moriondo, 1950, 98, no. 302, as painted with the help of a collaborator.

Barocchi, 1950, 67–70, 246, repeats the comments of Dvorak, Salmi, and Sabatini that the dark atmosphere of the picture is influenced by Sebastiano’s Viterbo Pietà and his Descent into Limbo in Madrid; she also recognizes the influence of Peruzzi, Michelangelo, and Dürer but all submerged in the painting’s smoky atmosphere.

Salmi, 1951, 189.

Shearman, 1957, I, 247, II, 229, n. 72, as datable in 1528.

Becherucci, [1958] 1964, 458, as showing Rosso’s inspiration seeming to flag.

Berenson, 1963, 194, Pl. 1472.

Carroll, 1964 (1976), I, Bk. I, 157–158, 160–173, 176–178, 180, Bk. II, 137–139, P. 21, II, Bk. II, 263–265, under D. 23, Bk. III, Fig. 78.

Borea, 1965, sees the influence of Perino del Vaga and relates the thieves in his Deposition from S. Maria dopra Minerva to Rosso’s Christ.

Freedberg, 1966, 583.

Carroll, 1966, 168.

Carroll, 1967, 302, where it is suggested that the picture was begun late in 1527 and possibly finished by March 1528.

Salmi, 1971, 123, believes that it joins resonant luministic violence from the Roman ambiance to Parmigianinesque preciosity.

Freedberg, 1971, 131, 485, n. 33, as late 1527 and 1528, and as showing passion utterly stylized.  He believes that the picture makes reference to Raphael’s Borghese Entombment, to Sebastiano’s Viterbo Pietà, and to Fra Bartolommeo’s Pietà in the Pitti.

Dunkelman, 1976, 151, as influenced by Donatello’s Deposition in S. Lorenzo.

Nyholm, 1977, 15–16, 147–148, Fig. 78, as restored and more complex, than the Volterra Deposition.

Hall, 1979, 36, considers its influence on Vasari’s style.

Boase, 1979, 176, as studied by Vasari.

Anna Maria Maetske, in Giorgio Vasari, 1981, 319, 324–325, no. 4, Color pl. I, Figs. 228–232, as inspired by Michelangelo’s Pietà in St. Peter’s, and as a “sacred drama transformed into an allegory of human tragedy, dominated by forces of evil represented by the grotesque sneer of the face of the warrior monkey in the right background;” also 327, no. 6, Fig. 233, the lunette by Rafaellino del Colle, and 329, under no. 10, as influential on Vasari’s Deposition in SS. Annuziata, Arezzo.

Paronchi, 1981, 73–74, the pose of Christ dependent on Dello Delli’s Pietà in a private collection, Florence, and not on Michelangelo’s Roman Pietà.

Ward, 1982, 394, under no.379, remarked upon its ars morendi theme as related to that of Rosso’s Disputation of the Angel of Death and the Devil drawing of 1517.

Rudolph, 1982, 122, as a dazzling mannerist tour-de-force.

Dal Poggetto, 1983, 415, 418, mentions the lunette as by Raffaellino del Colle, 1527–28.

Chastel, 1983, 175, Fig. 86, as “disjointed and muddled,” following upon Rosso’s experience of the Sack of Rome.

Darragon, 1983, 24, 26, 41–45, 49, 58, Figs. 18, 25, sees Rosso’s self-portrait in the head under the ladder immediately to the left of the cross; he identifies the figure at Christ’s head as St. John and relates the saint with his hands over his face with Rosso and to the similar figure in the Volterra Deposition; he refers to the ugly face in the background as simian and connects it to the monkey that Vasari says Rosso owned in Florence.

Wilmes, 1985, 65, 74, 78, 82, 85, 155, 160–162, 167, 175, Fig. 36.

Carroll, 1987, 24, 152–153, under no. 51, with Fig. Rosini, 1986, Color Pls. II, III, 67, 71, n. 25, 207 (see also under COPIES below)

M.G. Sassoli, in Pittura, Cinquecento, 1987, I, 360, 361, 362, Fig. 543.

Caron, 1988, 374, 376, Fig. 10, discussed its color.

Hamburgh, 1988, 591, n. 36, noted as meaningful that “Christ’s illuminated right hand rests on his groin.”

Franklin, 1989, published and discussed the documents related to this altarpiece.

Lebensztejn, 1990, 10.

Franklin, 1991, 148–149, 150, Figs. 7–8, on Raffaellino del Colle’s lunette above Rosso’s painting.

Ciardi and Mugnaini, 1991, 25, 150, 124–127, no.24, with 2 Color Pls., 128, 130, 134, 136.

Wolk-Simon, 1991, 301, 303, 304, Figs. 2–3, on Raffaellino’s lunette above Rosso’s altarpiece.

Hall, 1992, 155, as showing taste for chiaroscuro acquired in Rome.

Costamagna, 1992, as related to Michelangelo’s St. Peter’s Pietà perhaps elaborated at Michelangelo’s suggestion.

Stefaniak, 1992, 727, the figure of Christ based on that of the dead Meleager on a sarcophagus in Florence [which she did not specify].

Lebenztejn, 1992, 272, 279, 280, 282, Color Fig. 99, 286, 295, 297, the monstrous face in the background as “une tête que la heine a transformée en cauchemar vivient.”

Franklin, 1994, 59, 67, 79, 142, 145, 157, 161–183, 185, 187–189, 195, 200, 202–203, 205, 207–208, 233–234, 260, 267, 306–309, Appendix. F, DOCUMENTS 1–4, 316, Pls. 120, 136, 139, 143, Color Pl. 131, as painted to be installed in a new design for the choir and altar of the church; assumes the copy of it in the Pinacoteca shows the original format of the picture with the crossbar of the cross totally visible (see COPIES below); as showing Christ physically placed on the Virgin’s lap, her arms thrown back “crucified by her own suffering,” the green of her clothes related to the hood of the confraternity with a green cross on a white ground, the woman with a halo behind Mary seeming “most likely to represent Mary, the wife of Cleophas, who is specifically placed by the cross with the Virgin and Mary Magdalen in the Gospel of John (19:25);” the simian-like soldier holding a shield perhaps personifying Rosso’s attitude towards soldiers following his brutal treatment during the Sack of Rome.

Brilli, 1994, 26, 120–121, 122, Color Fig., 124.

Casciu, 1994, 16, 17, Color Pl., 18–19, no. 1, 47, 48, Color Pl., 49, no. 26, the monstrous head in the background certainly an allusion to the forces of Evil; the lunette by Raffaellino del Colle derived from a drawing by Giulio Romano in the Morgan Library executed for the decoration of the Massimi Chapel in Rome but never painted.

Costamagna, 1994, 65, 68, Fig. 50, 97, n. 31, 189, as a Pietà “dissociée” closely related in principle to Pontormo’s Pietà in the Capponi Chapel, which corresponds to the Divino Amore devotion of the Theatines, noting it inconceivable that Rosso has not seen Pontormo’s unfinished altarpiece in Florence; at the center of both, Michelangelo’s Pietà in St. Peter’s; furthermore, Michelangelo may have advised both in regards to their showing the same “obédience théatine.”

Marchetti Letta, 1994, 62–65, 73, the animal-like figure in the background a symbol of the treachery and wickedness that determined the killing of Christ.

Gaillemin, 1994, 60, 61, Fig., 65, its inspiration related to that of Pontormo’s Deposition in the Capponi Chapel; the only figure looking at us the monster at the foot of the cross.

Falciani, in Gnocchi and Falciani, 1994, 15, 68, 69, Color Fig.

Mugnaini, 1994, 127, the symbolic cross of the Madonna’s pose related to that of the central figure in Rosso’s Three Fates, Nude [E.105.]

Ciardi, 1994, 44, 46, Fig., 47, 49, 50, 53, 58, 74, 92, n. 50, 94, n. 101, 95, n. 111, 96, n. 136, 97, n. 166, 98, n. 171, mentions the semi-wild figure as emblematic of the wickedness of the killing of God, and influenced by Guarico’s De sculptura with its physiognomy of an evil person as having “oculi magni,” but perhaps from a shop treatise rather than from the philosophical text.

Caron, 1994, recognized the unusual head in the background as that of an ape and as a portrait of the ape that Vasari says Rosso owned in Florence painted “simply for the fun of it” and as “one of those sophisticated jokes so beloved of the Renaissance that seem peculiar to modern eyes.”

Jollet, 1994, 76, 80, recognized the monkey in the background as the pet Rosso owned in Florence, mentioned by Vasari.

The Pietà in San Lorenzo has always been recognized as the painting that Vasari says was painted in Borgo Sansepolcro after Rosso’s stay in Perugia following the Sack of Rome.  Except for the mistaken assumption of Colnaghi and Venturi that it was painted for S. Chiara, where Lanzi and Goldschmidt thought Rosso’s painting was located (see COPIES, Pinacoteca, below), the painting has also always been accepted as having been painted for S. Croce, the church of the Compagnia dei Battuti, now more usually called S. Lorenzo.

As now known from the documents discovered by Franklin (1989, 1994), the painting was commissioned from Rosso by the Confraternity of S. Croce in Borgo San Sepolcro on 23 September 1527, for the price of 45 large florins.  He requested to be paid in three equal installments, the first immediately, the second by January 1528, and the third when the picture was completed.  This rather suggests that Rosso thought of completing the altarpiece in six months, by the end of March 1528.  Sometime between late March and 20 April 1528 Rosso was in Arezzo where he helped Vasari obtain a commission for a Resurrection for which Rosso supplied a drawing (L.22).  This trip, possibly a stop on the way to or from Florence, could have been made possible by the completion of the Sansepolcro Pietà.  In any case the altarpiece was probably finished or almost finished when Rosso received the commission for the Christ in Glory for the Città di Castello on 1 July 1528 (P.20).

The wood panel of the altarpiece had already been ordered on 20 February 1523 as part of the design of the new altar and choir of S. Croce.5 Work on this project was almost finished by 14 September 1524.6  This included the panel for the altarpiece.  A document of 22 July 1525 refers to the new placement of the Crucifix formally on the high altar which had been moved to be replaced by a Deposition from the Cross which had been commissioned (una tavola con la depositione di croci del nostro signore quale è data a fare).7  This confirms Vasari’s account, that originally the altarpiece had been given to another painter, Raffaellino del Colle, around the summer of 1525, who later gave it up, so the story goes, that the town might have a picture by Rosso, although the Confraternity resented this.8

Bishop Tournabuoni’s influence made possible the transfer.  Raffaellino was to receive a small amount for the work.  Rosso had to agree to be paid no more than 45 florins.  What is clear from these documents is that by the time Rosso received his commission the specific size and subject of this altarpiece had been determined.  In Rosso’s own contract he was charged to paint a Deposition from the Cross with other figures and images appropriate to the mystery of the deposition (deposto de Cruce, cum aliis figuris et imagnibus que veniunt et interveniunt in misterio ac depositione predicta).

Raffaellino del Colle’s lunette of God-the-Father with Angels (Fig.Raffaellino del Colle, God-the-Father with Angels)9 that surmounts Rosso’s Pietà closely resembles in subject and style the upper lunette-shaped section of his Annuciation in the Pinacoteca in Città di Castello (Venturi, IX, 5, 612, Fig. 342).  No sources indicate that the lunette in San Lorenzo was made to be placed over Rosso’s picture, but given that they have survived together it is very likely that they were originally made to be placed together.  Furthermore, it was Raffaellino del Colle who ceded the commission of the Pietà to Rosso.  The lunette is only slightly less wide than Rosso’s picture and its subject, showing God-the-Father looking down with angels at the sides, cherubs above, and below an open book held by a cherub and inscribed with a large Alpha and an Omega, are appropriate to the subject to Rosso’s altarpiece.  However, the composition of Rosso’s painting shows no correspondences to Raffaellino’s, and the style of the lunette has nothing to do with Rosso’s.  So while these pictures are thematically and physically related they do not strike one as parts of a single design (as distinct from a single program).  The simplicity of the color of Raffaellino’s picture has nothing in common with the color of Rosso’s painting.10 It is not known what Raffaellino might have planned for his Deposition and hence what relation it might have had to Rosso’s.

COPIES: Arezzo, Deposit of the Casa Vasari, formerly in the Cathedral of Borgo Sansepolcro, oil on canvas. LITERATURE: Mentioned by Lanzi, 1795–1796, see above.  Mancini, 1832, see above, 264, as on the fifth altar at the right of the cathedral, and as a poor copy by Giovanni Battista Cungi.  Milanesi, in Vasari-Milanesi, V, 1880, 163, n. 5. Coleschi, 1886, 168, as on a wall in the third chapel on the left, and as by Cungi.  Kallab, 1908, 41, n. 10. Giglioli, 1921, 57, no. 21, as school of Rafaello del Colle.  Colnaghi, 1928, 237, as in the cathedral.  Kusenberg, 1931, 188, n. 82, as on canvas and smaller than the original.  Ivano Ricci, Borgo Sansepolcro, Monografia storico-artistca, Sansepolcro, 1932, 39, as in Coleschi.  Maetske, in Giorgio Vasari, 1981, 328, under no. 9, mentioned as attributed to Cungi but without any reference to location.  Rosini, 1986, 71, n. 25, as oil on canvas, as in the Deposito giudiziario of the Casa Vasari.  Witcombe, 1989, 851, mentioned as missing.  Franklin, 1989, 825, n. 42.  Franklin, “Cungi,” 1989, 851, mentioned and Franklin, 1994, 287, n. 43, location unknown.

Borgo Sansepolcro, Pinacoteca, on canvas (Fig.P.19 Copy, Sansepolcro).  LITERATURE: Gilgioli, 1921, 65, as of the seventeenth century.  D. Gennaioli, Alta Valle Tiberina, Sansepolcro, 1926, 22.  Angiolo Bubboloni, Sansepolcro (Le cento città d’Italia illustrata, no. 162), Milan, 1927, 6, mentions Rosso’s picture as in the Palazzo Communale, where the Pinacoteca was located, but he is probably referring to the copy; this publication does not mention the church of S. Lorenzo where the original Pietà is.  Kusenberg, 1931, 189, n. 82, as on canvas and smaller that the original.  Franklin, 1989, 825, n. 42, and 1994, 164, 165, Pl. 165, 287, n. 43, as showing the original format of Rosso’s picture before it was cut at the top and sides.  This is a very dull picture that makes no attempt to copy the character of the color of Rosso’s painting, and adds beneath the arms of the cross, at the upper left, a sun, and at the upper right, a moon with a face.  The original location of this copy is not known but it is possible that it comes from the defunct church of S. Chiara.  Mrs. Jonathan Foster, in her edition of Vasari’s Lives (London, 1891, III, 313, n.), says that Rosso’s picture was painted for S. Chiara in which, she writes, there is now an old copy.  Colnaghi and Venturi, see above, also thought Rosso’s painting was done for this church but the latter knew the original was in S. Lorenzo.  Lanzi in 1795–1796, and Goldschnidt in 1911, see above, actually wrote that the original was in S. Chiara.  This seems never to have been the case, but it makes one wonder if their comments are based on the copy there, the copy that may be the one that was moved to the Pinacoteca.

Franklin suggested that this wretched picture gives the original format of Rosso’s picture.  The color plate of Rosso’s picture in his book of 1994 shows Rosso’s panel without its frame to the very end of all its unpainted edges.  There is no indication that it has been cut.  Furthermore, it is obvious that the copyist has altered Rosso’s image, not only by the addition of the sun and moon, with a face, no less, but also by adding more ground at the bottom, which appears wholly unnecessary to the scene.  Pl. 165 in Franklin’s book also shows the copy not as wide as Rosso’s painting.  The copyist has changed the format of Rosso’s picture probably to accommodate the copy to the dimensions of an unknown site, but also possibly to correct the absence of the top of the cross.  While Rosso was commissioned to paint a Deposition, the shape of the panel that he was given him led him to reduce the value of the cross in favor of the actions of the figures beneath it, repeating, however, something of its shape in the cruciform position of the Virgin’s arms, as has frequently been noted.  It might also be noted that Enea Vico’s engraving of Vasari’s Deposition, reproduced as Pl. 130 across from Rosso’s picture in Franklin’s book, shows about half of the crossbar of the cross missing.

COPY, DRAWING: Oxford, Christ Church, no. 1453, Copy of the head of the young male figure supporting Christ’s body at the left (Fig.P.19 Copy, Oxford). Red chalk over preliminary black chalk, washed over, on brownish-toned paper, 29.6 x 22.6 (max., including additions at left and in all four corners); inscribed in ink at the lower right: Di Francesco Salviati and 74. LITERATURE: H. Bussman, Vorzeichnungen Francesco Salviatis, Inaugural Dissertation, University, Berlin, 1969, 27, 118, n. 28, as by the young Salviati (from Mortari, 1992).  Byam Shaw, 1976, I, 73–74, no. 150, II, Pl. 93, as ascribed to Salviati.  Franklin, 1989, 825, n. 42, as a copy after Rosso.  Mortari, 1992, 247, no. 433 with Fig., as Salviati, but nearer to Rosso.  Nova, 1995, 554, n. 1, as rather crude, as a study for St. John in Rosso’s picture, but without indicating as by Rosso himself.

The drawing was made directly from Rosso’s painting, as a variety of details clearly indicate.  It does not seem to me to be by Salviati who, so far as I know, never visited Sansepolcro, where the drawing would have to have been made.  Philip Pouncey suggested to Byam Shaw that it might be by Vasari, who tells us himself that he visited Rosso in Sansepolcro where he met Cristofano Gherardi.  Possibly the drawing is by Vasari or Gherardi.  If the copy of the painting that was in the cathedral is by Giovanni Battista Cungi, perhaps the Christ Church drawing is by him.


1 From Giorgio Vasari, 1991, 324, no. 3. See also the remarks on its format under COPIES, Pinacoteca, Sansepolcro.

2 Published by Franklin, 1989, 826, Appendix, Document 4, and 1994, 164, 308–309, Appendix F, DOCUMENT 4. Here transcribed with corrections by Gino Corti.

3 Published and commented upon in Franklin, 1989, 820 and n. 19, and commented upon in Franklin, 1994, 164, 287, n. 42, with indication that it is discussed in E. Agnoletti, Viaggio per le Valli Altotiberine Toscane, Sansepolcro, 1979, 196.  Franklin thought the indecency would have been Christ’s full nudity.

4 See Franklin, 1989, 817, and 1994, 161–162, on the history of the church which in 1554 became the seat of the Benedictine nuns of S. Lorenzo.  See also Giglioli above and Coleschi, 1886, 156, 178–179.

5 Franklin, 1989, 819, 825–826, Appendix, Document 1, and 1994, 162, 306–307, Appendix F, DOCUMENT 1.

6 Franklin, 1989, 819, 826, Appendix, Document 2, and 1994, 162,307–308, Appendix F, DOCUMENT 2.

7 Franklin, 1989, 819, 826, Appendix, Document 3, and 1994, 163, 308, Appendix F, DOCUMENT 3.

81 On the date, see Franklin, 1991, 148–149.

9 Panel, 110 x 190 (see Maetske, below).  God-the-Father is dressed in dark blue with violet drapery behind him and over his legs.  The drapery of the angel at the left is orange going to yellow; that of the angel at the right, light yellow going to lavender. The lunette has been attributed to Raffaellino del Colle by Coleschi, 1886, 179; Gamba, 1906, 47, Giglioli, 1921, 22, Walter Bombe, in Thieme-Becker, VII, 1912, 216; Venturi, IX, 5, 1932, 620; and Maetske, in Giorgio Vasari, 1981, 327, no. 6, Fig. 233, and under no. 7, as done in 1527–28, probably before Raffaellino turned the commission for the altarpiece over to Rosso.  Franklin, 1989, 821, Fig. 12, believes on the basis on style that it may well date before late 1527.  Franklin, 1994, 167, Pl. 128, as done perhaps around the summer of 1525.

10 Maetske and Franklin (1989, see above) thought the lunette was painted before Rosso began his altarpiece.  Wolk-Simon (1991, see above) believed that a drawing in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York (Inv. no. I, 19), is by Raffaellino del Colle and for the lunette that accompanies Rosso’s altarpiece.  Franklin (1991, see above) also related this drawing to the lunette but thought the drawing was possibly by Giulio Romano, noting that Sylvia Ferino Pagden had given it to Penni? (Giulio Romano, Milan, 1989, 85, 252).  The drawing does not seem to me to have been used for the lunette above Rosso’s picture, at least as that lunette was actually executed.  The figures in the painting are fewer, larger, and broader in their poses and gestures.  The lunette in the drawing has a somewhat different shape, flattened at the sides, and there is at the bottom a ledge on which the angels and cherubs are posed.  Perhaps the drawing was going to be used for the lunette and then its composition was modified to make a grander image for Rosso’s altarpiece, which, of course, would indicate a date after the invention of the main picture.