D.19 Standing Nude Youth

D.19 Standing Nude Youth

Early 1527

Paris, Louvre, Inv. 10906.

Fig.D.19a after cleaning
Fig.D.19b bw, before cleaning

Gray chalk heightened with white on gray tinted paper (parts of the drawing look as though they are executed in silverpoint), 30.6 x 15.6, the upper left corner cut, as well as a very small piece of the upper right corner; the drawing is very severely rubbed; the upper part of the head and the left arm are very much effaced; some of the contours along the right side of the figure (his left) as well as along the inner side of his left calf seem to have been lightly redrawn; the sheet is also very badly stained; there is a horizontal crease through the thighs and rows of pricked holes run across the figure’s left leg near the knee; laid down; wm.?  There remains the upper part of an inscription in ink at the lower edge; inscribed on the mount: Andrea del Sarto and Ecole Florentine; on the back of the mount is written: Rosso AEP [A. E. Popham].

PROVENANCE: Peter Lely (Lugt 2094); Saint-Morys (see below).


Freedberg, 1963, II, 258, as Rosso, of his Roman years.

Carroll, 1964 (1976), I, Bk. I, 121-126, Bk. II, 237-239, D.16, II, Bk. III, Fig. 56, as Rosso, around 1526.

Saint-Morys, 1987, II, inv. no. 10906, giving Saint-Morys’ attribution to Sarto and Morel d’Arleux’s (492) to the same artist.

Carroll, 1987, 136-137, no. 45, with Fig., as Rosso, early 1527.

Franklin, 1988, 326, no. 45, the upper part of the figure inspired by some Bacchic sculpture and the light falling from figure’s left, unusual for Rosso, suggesting the drawing was made from a three dimensional model.

Franklin, 1994, 153, Pl. 153, as Rosso’s and possibly made from antique art implying a Roman date; perhaps showing the use of metalpoint.

As a type of figure this young nude is almost identical to that of Rosso’s Mercury in a Niche (Fig.E.38), engraved by Caraglio in 1526.  Not only the proportions of the figures but also the drawing of certain details, such as the hands and feet, are very similar.

The draughtsmanship of the best preserved contours of the figure is like that of the study of 1522 (Fig.D.7) for the figure of St. Sebastian of the Dei Altarpiece, and even more closely to that of Rosso’s Standing Nude Woman of around 1520 (Fig.D.5). However, the smooth transitions of lights and darks in the Standing Nude Youth recall less the patchiness of the late Florentine drawings and more the chiaroscuro of such Roman drawings as the study for the figure of Eve (Fig.D.10) of the Cesi Chapel Fall of Adam and Eve and the St. Roch Distributing His Inheritance to the Poor (Fig.D.13).  Given its figural similarity to the Mercury in a Niche and its closest graphic resemblance to some of the Roman drawings it is most likely that the Louvre drawing was done in Rome.

Because of its similarity to the figure of Mercury engraved in 1526, one would expect the drawing to have been done at the same time.  But it is just possible that it is slightly later, for the slenderness of the figure, appearing even more elongated by the raised left arm and the upward tilt of the head, and the curves that join so easily the parts of the body suggest Rosso’s Phylira in his Saturn and Philyra of early 1527, engraved by Caraglio (Fig.E.47a).  None of Rosso’s Gods in Niches (E.26-45) are so elongated and so graceful as the figure of Phylira and the Standing Nude Youth.  It is quite possible that the drawing was also done early in 1527.

A lengthy argument against the attribution of this drawing to Sarto seems hardly necessary as Andrea’s very fluid draughtsmanship has very little in common with the precision of the handling of this nude study.  The drawing is now catalogued as anonymous in the Louvre.  Popham’s attribution to Rosso, noted on the back of the mount, was also brought to my attention by Rosaline Bacou.

Franklin’s suggestion that the light in the drawing indicates that it was made from a three-dimensional model, specifically some Bacchic model, is only partially appreciable.  The drawing may well have been made from a live model.  As to the lighting, it is possible that its direction falling from the figure’s upper left, is related to the appearance of the figure in a composition intended for a particular site, as is the case in the similarly lighted study in the figure of Eve (Fig.D.10) in the Cesi Chapel Fall of Adam and Eve, and in the Allegory of the Immaculate Conception (Fig.D.32) planned for S. Maria delle Lagrime in Arezzo.  The figure’s pose does suggest that it was conceived for a narrative context.  If the drawing was done early in 1527 the only recorded painting by Rosso with which it might be associated is his lost Beheading of St. John the Baptist (L.19), but it is difficult to see the pose in relation to this subject.  A drawing which is more likely connected to this lost painting is the Profile Head of a Young Woman (Fig.D.20) where the light falls from the other direction.