Four Seated Women, Draped and Partially Draped, and Below a Standing Woman with Her Left Arm Raised and with a Nude Child Standing at her Right Side: Study for the Christ In Glory in Città di Castello
D.27A. Study for The Four Seated Women
Paris, Louvre, Inv. 8781.
Pen and ink and wash, heightened with white, on yellow washed paper, 20.3 x 20.4; wm.?
Carroll, 1961, 450, n. 18, as reflecting a lost drawing by Rosso for his Christ in Glory.
Carroll, 1964 (1976), II, Bk. II, 284-285, n. 4 (under D.26), Bk. III, Fig. 84a, as seeming to reflect a lost drawing by Rosso, the figures of which the copyist has re-composed.
Franklin, 1994, 200-202, Pl. 158, as an anonymous and rather muddled copy of a lost drawing by Rosso for the Città di Castello altarpiece, showing the figures compressed together (by the copyist).
D.27B. Study for The Four Seated Women and for the Woman Below Holding Something in Her Raised Left Hand and with Her Lowered Right Hand the Left Hand of a Standing Nude Child
Munich, Hinrich Sieveking Collection, (formerly Hamburg, Thomas Le Claire, dealer), verso.
Pen and ink and wash, heightened with white, on yellow prepared paper, 21.7 x 20.1, the lower right corner missing. Inscribed in pencil at the lower right: L26, and faintly near the center: JG[?]1
PROVENANCE: Earl of Dalhousie (Lugt 717a, on the recto).
Thomas Le Claire, Kunsthandel, III, Handzeichnunaer alter Meister, Hamburg, November-December, 1985, 8-91 Lot 2, with Fig., as by Girolamo da Carpi.
Franklin, 1994, 200, 201, Pl. 138, 290, n. 75 as a copy, attributed to Biagio Pupini, of a lost drawing or drawings by Rosso for the Christ in Glory.
The drapery and feet at the top of the drawing in Munich are identical to those of the figures in the Louvre drawing. But the handling of the two drawings and the precise description of details shows that they were not copied from each other. Hence they go back to a common source. Franklin saw that the woman with the child in the Munich drawing was done in a different scale, suggesting to him that that drawing may be a combination of two different lost drawings by Rosso for the Città di Castello altarpiece. But this difference in size is also an aspect of the finished picture, where that same standing woman is noticeably larger than the figures at the top of the composition. Thus it is likely that the drawing in Munich is copied from a single drawing by Rosso of which the Louvre drawing is another partial copy. The bare breasts of the standing woman also relate the Munich drawing to the copy of a drawing for the lower half of the picture in Rome (Fig.D.28). It should also be noted that two of the female saints in the Louvre drawing, including the figure that is the Virgin in the altarpiece, are nude to below the waist. The old saint, while having drapery over her head, shoulders and back, has bare arms and torso. She, as St. Anne, is fully clothed in the painting. Clearly, the lost drawing was not copied from the altarpiece where the four female saints are divided into two groups at either side of the risen Christ. Furthermore, the left arm and hand of the second woman (the Virgin in the painting) are fully visible in the Louvre drawing while they are not in the painting. The Louvre drawing also shows the right arm of the last woman (St. Mary of Egypt).
Although the Louvre drawing, attributed to the School of Fontainebleau, is poorly drawn, and the drawing in Munich is only slightly more finely executed, both probably record quite well Rosso’s lost drawing. Here and there the copies may reflect something of the draughtsmanship of Rosso’s drawing which could have graphically resembled the center part of his Design for a Chapel of 1528-1529 (Fig.D.37a). But this is not at all certain and the lost original could have been executed in another medium or media. It is possible that the original was itself incomplete as seen in the drawing in Munich.
The Christ in Glory in Città di Castello was commissioned on 1 July 1528. The partial nudity in the drawing is related to that in the copy in Rome (Fig.D.29), and to the partial nudity that appears in another copy of a lost drawing in Florence (Fig.D.28) for the lower part of the picture. The original of all these drawings would seem to have been made shortly after Rosso received the commission for this picture and shortly after a trip to Florence where he came in contact again with the art of Michelangelo. Because of an accident and illness work on the altarpiece was abandoned either late in the summer or in the early autumn of 1528. The lost drawings would have been done before this moment. It was not until a year or so later that the painting was actually executed with a different composition of the figures.
This leads one to speculate on just what kind of composition was presented by the lost original copied in the drawings in Munich and Paris. I had thought that the Louvre drawing showed that it was the copyist who moved the four female figures together, where in the painting they are separated, and Franklin thought the same. But the added evidence of the drawing in Munich suggests that this may not have been the case. It is just possible that the original composition was to be three tiered, something in the manner of Raphael’s Transfiguration, also with its changes in scale from one level to another. This might have been the intention of the confraternity that commissioned it, which may account for Vasari’s remark that it did not get what it wanted. The early grouping and diversity of the figures – the “popolo” in the lower part of the composition, as known from the two other copies mentioned above (Fig.D.28; Fig.D.29) – may also be dependent on Rosso’s recollection of Raphael’s Roman picture.
1 The recto of the sheet shows an Allegory of Abundance with a Satyr, a Man (another satyr?) holding the Branch of a Tree, a Snake, and a Putto holding a Bow, by the same hand as the verso (on which see Thomas Le Claire, above, and Fig.Carpi, Abundance). Franklin, 1994, 200, as after the antique. The composition suggests Primaticcio at the time of his arrival at Fontainebleau.