D.24 Copy of Michelangelo’s David-Apollo

D.24 Copy of Michelangelo’s David-Apollo


New York, The Pierpont Morgan Library and Museum, Janos Scholz Collection, no. 1986.47.


Red chalk over very faint traces of black chalk, 19.4 x 8.6, the lower left edge cut and added, the lower right corner torn and repaired, a tear at the top, right of center; slightly soiled and an ink stain at the lower right; no wm.  Inscribed in ink at the lower left: 3.  At the left edge, just above the right knee, there is a small curved line in red chalk – the contour of another knee? – suggesting that the original uncut sheet contained a second drawing.  (The verso of the sheet contains a pair of legs in red chalk over traces of black chalk, cut below the knees and scratched over with two pen lines, the fluid and schematic draughtsmanship of which is not related to that of any drawing securely attributable to him.  It appears to date from the second half of the sixteenth century.)

PROVENANCE: London, Spencer’s; purchased by Scholz (Lugt 2933b) in 1937; acquired by the Morgan in 1986.


Tolnay, III, 1948, 181f., n. 3, 182, n. 5, as attributed to Rosso.

Carroll, 1961, 453, n. 28, as by Rosso, and as documenting a trip by him to Florence in the years 1527-1530.

Alfred Neumeyer, in Drawings from Tuscany and Umbria 1350-1700, exh. cat., Mills College Art Gallery, Oakland, and University of California Art Gallery, Berkeley, 1961, Introduction and no. 73, as Rosso.

Anxiety and Elegance, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Mass., 1962, 10, no. 30, as Rosso, 1527-1530.

Jack Wasserman, Italian Drawings, exh. cat., University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, 1964, no. 34, Pl. 16, as Rosso.

Carroll, 1964 (1976), I, Bk. I, 158-161, II, Bk. II, 258-262, D.22, Bk. III, Fig. 76, as Rosso, and probably executed in Florence late in 1527.

Age of Vasari, 1970, 74-75, no. D8, as Rosso.

Pope-Hennessy, 1970, 325, as ascribed to Rosso.

Richard Campbell, in RISD, 1973, 56, no. 61, as Rosso.

Konrad Oberhuber and Dean Walker, Sixteenth Century Italian Drawings from the Collection of Janos Scholz, exh. cat., Washington, D.C. and New York, 1973, 32-33, no. 25, Fig., as Rosso, with some reservation; if by Rosso it was done before November 1530 when he is documented in France.  The authors suggests that it may have been done from a bozzetto of Michelangelo’s statue although the rendering of the knees seems to copy the statue itself.  They state that Michelangelo’s statue could only have been commissioned from Baccio Valori around the beginning of 1530.

Darragon, 1983, 42, as indicting a trip by Rosso to Florence after the Roman period.

Carroll, 1987, 25, 146-148, no. 49, with Fig., as Rosso, late 1527.

Leone de Castris, 1988, 40, 42, as Rosso, done upon his return to Tuscany.

Franklin, 1988, 326, no. 49, as a weak drawing, and found my dating in 1527 untenable in the light of the evidence that Michelangelo’s statue was begun in 1530.

Costamagna, 1991, 61, n. 19, as difficult to accept as Rosso’s as modelling is not characteristic of him as visible in his drawing of an ignudo by Michelangelo at Chatsworth [RD.4, a drawing that I do not recognize as Rosso’s]; and as stylistically close to another copy after Michelangelo, after his Sistine Adam, in the British Museum (1946-7-13-369), traditionally ascribed to Salviati.

Ciardi, 1994, 49, 94, n. 87, as Rosso, 1527, after Michelangelo’s statue authoritatively dated 1525-1530, finding irrational Franklin’s perplexity.

The initial suggestion that this copy of Michelangelo’s statue in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello (Fig.Michelangelo, David-Apollo; Fig.Michelangelo, David-Apollo, head) is by Rosso comes from the close similarity of its draughtsmanship to that of several indisputably autograph drawings by him.  Closest to it is the handling of Rosso’s red chalk study (Fig.D.10) for the figure of Eve for the Cesi Chapel Fall of Adam and Eve of 1524.  The clear but also repeated contours and the parallel shading are almost identical, as can be seen most tellingly by comparing the drawing of the right leg and foot in the Scholz drawing with that of the left foot and leg in the study for Rosso’s fresco.  Parts of Rosso’s Bacchus in a Niche of 1526 (Fig.D.18a) are drawn the same way.  This is a kind of draughtsmanship that is also found in some of Rosso’s Florentine drawings, such as the very similar Standing Nude Woman of around 1520 (Fig.D.5).  A certain transparency of the draughtsmanship of the Scholz drawing, suggesting rather than markedly defining the forms of the figure, also brings to mind the handling of Rosso’s Madonna della Misericordia of 1529 (Fig.D.35a).

The manner in which the Scholz drawing interprets Michelangelo’s statue furthermore supports Rosso’s authorship.  The statue is viewed from the right (the figure’s left), from a position in which the body is seen in strict profile, the head directly from the front, and just low enough to bring the contour of the upper left arm to touch the contour of the head.  Only two recent photographs of the whole statue and of the head straight on approach the position taken by the draughtsman (see illustration link references above).  Careful adjustments have been made so that all of the forms of Michelangelo’s figure are arranged parallel to each other and to the surface of the drawing.  Although the head of Michelangelo’s sculpted figure is tilted slightly forward and his left arm is extended back across his chest, the head and the arm do not appear in the least foreshortened in the drawing, but rather parallel to the surface of the drawing.  The shading in the drawing is limited to the edges of its various forms, creating broad, undifferentiated areas of light that emphasize the planarity of the figure.  As the breadth of all the forms of the David-Apollo has been slightly increased, the whole figure, with its limited peripheral shadows, looks distended over the surface of the drawing.  These subtle changes to Michelangelo’s figure reveal personal stylistic attitudes that underlie the structure of Rosso’s Dead Christ (Fig.P.18a), his St. Roch Distributing His Inheritance to the Poor (Fig.D.13), and most particularly his Pietà in Borgo Sansepolcro (Fig.P.19a).  The upper part of the black man wearing a turban in the lower left corner of Rosso’s Christ in Glory (Fig.P.20d) is viewed with the head seen full face and the broad planes of his arm parallel to the picture plane as in the Scholz drawing.  The round face in the drawing, not specifically like the face of Michelangelo’s statue, is very similar to many in Rosso’s works: to St. Stephen’s (Leonard’s) in the S. Maria Nuova Altarpiece (Fig.P.5a), to the faces of the women and children behind the Virgin and to the man holding a staff behind Joseph in the Sposalizio of 1523 (Fig.P.13a), and to several of the round faces in the Madonna della Misericordia drawing.  The Scholz drawing resembles Rosso’s art in such a variety of ways that his authorship of it should be recognized, as most published opinions indicate.

The faithfulness of Rosso’s copy of Michelangelo’s statue, in spite of some variations and changes, indicates that the drawing was made directly from the statue and not from a bozzetto, a possibility suggested by Oberhuber and Walker (1973).  Nor can the copy be regarded as having been drawn from memory.  Therefore Rosso must have made his drawing in Florence some time after his flight from Rome in mid-1527 and his departure from Borgo Sansepolcro for Venice on or only very shortly after 14 April 1530.  It also seems likely that the drawing was made before October 1529, from which time until August 1530 the Siege of Florence would have prevented Rosso from visiting his native town.  The rotundity of the forms in the drawing and the relative ease with which the forms of the figure are arranged parallel to the surface of the drawing – in contrast to the rather tense postures of the figures at the top of the Christ in Glory – suggest that the copy dates from around the time of the Pietà in Borgo Sansepolcro.  It is quite probable that Rosso executed the drawing in Florence late in 1527 before he settled in Borgo Sansepolcro to execute the Pietà.1  During a probable later trip to Florence Michelangelo’s art was to be viewed by Rosso somewhat differently, as indicated by his early studies of 1528 (Fig.D.28; Fig.D.29) for the Christ in Glory and by his drawings of the Allegory of the Immaculate Conception (Fig.D.31; Fig.D.32), done in Arezzo shortly thereafter in the same year.

The dating of the Scholz drawing late in 1527 conflicts with the date suggested by Oberhuber and Walker and by Weinberger (1967, 348) for the beginning of work on Michelangelo’s statue in September or October 1530.  By this time Rosso was already in Venice, about to leave for France.  However, according to Tolnay (III, 1948, 96-97, 181, n. 2), following Popp, Michelangelo probably began the statue in the winter of 1525-1526.  Pope Hennessy (see above) states that there is no reason to disbelieve Vasari’s statement that the statue was begun for Baccio Valori in the middle of 1530.  This, of course, presents a dilemma recognized by Franklin, for the drawing cannot be both by Rosso and after a statue that he could not have seen.  However, in spite of Vasari’s placement of the statue in 1530, an earlier beginning for it has been persistently suggested.2 The drawing has all the appearance of being by Rosso.  Consequently, if the attribution to Rosso is accepted, it would be necessary to recognize that the statue was done before October 1529.  For the moment, I prefer to maintain the attribution to Rosso and to continue to seek a resolution to the problem of its date that the acceptance of his authorship presents.3  As Pope-Hennessy stated, the statue, in spite of a reference to it as a David in an inventory of 1553, would seem always to have been intended as an Apollo, and it is as such that, with a quiver at its back, it is shown to be in Rosso’s drawing.

1 A trip to Florence in the latter part of 1527 may be suggested by a document of 22 January 1528 (DOC.11), in which Rosso in Borgo Sansepolcro hires a “procuratore” for any litigation that might arise in Florence or elsewhere.

2See Hartt, 1968, 242-243, and Hibbard, 1974, 227.

3Costamagna’s suggestion that the drawing stylistically resembles the copy of Michelangelo’s Adam in the British Museum (Wilde, 1953, 127, no.96, Pl. CXLVI) seems on the basis of graphic similarity to have some merit.  But the planarity of the David-Apollo drawing does not appear in the British Museum drawing.  The attribution of the latter to Salviati does not ease the problem, as he was himself much influenced by Rosso from the very beginning of his career.