Studies Related to the Figure of Saint Francis in the Lost Drawing for Lappoli’s Adoration of the Magi in S. Francesco, Arezzo
Rennes, Musée des Beaux-Arts et d’Archéologie, Inv. no. 794.1.3028.
Red chalk with outlines in black chalk, 22.4 x 18.2; wm.? Inscribed in ink at the bottom left edge: Raffaello, and in darker ink, at the lower left: andre del Sarto, and at the lower right: no. 23.
PROVENANCE: Christophe-Paul de Robien (1698-1756), Rennes (see Ramade, in Rennes, 1990, 7-8).
Jan J., Catalogue des Tableaux, Dessins…exposés dans les Galeries du Musée de la Ville de Rennes, Rennes, 1884, c.7-3, as Florentine School, sixteenth century.
Ramade, in Rennes, 1990, 217, no. 191 and Fig., as after Rosso?
Costamagna, 1990, 52, as attributed to Giovanni Antonio Lappoli by Anna Forlani Tempesti.
Forlani Tempesti, 1992, 95-97, 100, n. 11, Fig. 4, as by Giovanni Antonio Lappoli for the figure of St. Francis in his Adoration of the Magi in S. Francesco, Arezzo.
Costamagna, 1994, 321, under A113, as by Lappoli and showing the influence of Rosso and Parmigianino.
Franklin, 1994, 177-179, Pl. 157, as a copy perhaps by Lappoli of a lost drawing by Rosso, and as recording two of Rosso’s more specific ideas for Lappoli’s painting, the left hand related to Christ’s in the Sansepolcro Deposition, adapted by Lappoli for the hand of St. Francis that holds a Crucifix in his altarpiece.
There can be no doubt that the drawing in Rennes is related to the feet and left hand of the figure of St. Francis in Giovanni Antonio Lappoli’s Adoration of the Magi painted for the high altar of S. Francesco in Arezzo and still in that church. This is the altarpiece for which, according to Vasari, Rosso gave Lappoli a “bellissimo disegno,” probably early in 1528 (L.21), and from which Lappoli painted his picture “fra un’anno” (Fig.Lappoli, Magi).
The feet in the drawing are studied from life and thus do not show the stigmata that appear in the painting, nor the drapery that falls over the ankles of St. Francis (Fig.Lappoli, Magi, feet). Also, the feet are not in exactly the same positions in the altarpiece. The left hand in the painting holds a cross, which conceals most of the fingers that are visible in the drawing. The drawing was certainly not copied from the picture.
Forlani Tempesti confirmed Ramade’s indication that the draughtsmanship of the drawing resembles Rosso’s, but noted also that it is too mechanical and hard actually to be his. Thus she would conclude that given Lappoli’s years in Florence with Pontormo and making of himself a follower of Rosso whose help he sought, the drawing is by Lappoli for his altarpiece. Unfortunately, the drawing does not resemble any drawing that can certainly be recognized as by Lappoli, nor the supposed self portrait drawing that Forlani Tempesti would recognize as autograph. It does not resemble the draughtsmanship of his pen and wash Allegory of the Immaculate Conception of 1545 in the Louvre where a kneeling St. Francis has very similar feet (Fig.Lappoli, Paris, 2098).1
While it seems unlikely that this drawing, which I know only from a photograph, is actually by Rosso for the very reasons that Forlani Tempesti mentions, its draughtsmanship comes very close to his. It closely resembles that of three red chalk studies made from life, the study of 1522 (Fig.D.7) for the figure of St. Sebastian in the Dei Altarpiece, the Seated Male Nude of around 1523 (Fig.D.9), which shows a very similar right foot seen from the bottom, and the Standing Bearded Nude done in Rome in 1524 (Fig.D.16). It is, therefore, most likely that the drawing in Rennes is a copy of a lost drawing by Rosso, as Ramade thought, that was used in relation to the compositional drawing that he gave to Lappoli for his altarpiece.
It is quite possible that originally the drawing was not even intended for the composition that Rosso gave to the Aretine painter. The hand in the Rennes drawing is not holding anything, which seems strange if it were intended for the hand of St. Francis holding a cross in Lappoli’s painting. Vasari pointed out that Rosso drew from the nude almost everyday (L.30), and while all other drawings that could be related to this statement are of full figures, there is no reason not to believe that Rosso also made drawings of parts of his models. But it would seem that the drawing was done about the time that Lappoli received Rosso’s drawing for his altarpiece and thus was at hand for the invention of that Adoration of the Magi. The possibility that the lost original drawing was made before Rosso came to make his drawing for Lappoli is somewhat undermined by the fact that the feet and hand appear on the same sheet, but this may be exactly why both were used in the composition for Lappoli. As Rosso’s lost drawing from which the copy in Rennes was made need never have been used by Lappoli there is no reason to recognize him as the copyist.
Forlani Tempesti thought that the Rennes drawing, which she thought was by Lappoli, might be related to two Uffizi drawings that have been attributed to Rosso, but which are certainly not autograph (FigD.21; Fig.D.22). What she did not know is that these two drawings are copies of lost drawings related to the cartoon of another Adoration of the Magi that Rosso made for Domenico Alfani in Perugia in the late spring or summer of 1527 (L.20). It is very possible that the Rennes and Uffizi drawings are by the same copyist. The originals of the Uffizi drawings may have been made independently of the cartoon for Alfani and then brought into use for it, as may have been the case with the original of the Rennes drawing in relation to the drawing that Rosso made for Lappoli.