D.29 Study for the Lower Half of the Christ in Glory

D. 29 COPY Study for the Lower Half of the "Christ in Glory"


Rome, Gabinetto Nazionale delle Stampe, no. F.C. 125607.


Black chalk, the face, neck, ear, and hair above the forehead of the woman at the left also in red chalk, 28.3 x 33.2 (the right edge of the scene marked by a line six or seven centimeters to the left of the right edge of the sheet); creased vertically left of center, stained at all four edges, and a small piece missing just below the center of the right edge; watermark, a sunburst with a face in the center, the encircling rays alternating straight-edged and curved, similar to Briquet 13947-13961.  Inscribed in red chalk on the verso: Del Rosso.

PROVENANCE: Corsini (see Grandi disegni, [1981], below).


Carroll, 1961, 450, 451, Fig. 11, 453, as a copy of a lost drawing by Rosso for his picture in Città di Castello.

Carroll, 1964 (1976), I, Bk. I, 176-182, II, Bk. II, 286-290, D.27, Bk. III, Fig. 8, as a copy of a lost drawing; the “Addition to the Preface,” 1976, vii, as autograph.

Forlani [1964], XXIX, 169, and no. 30, and Fig., as an autograph drawing by Rosso for his Christ in Glory, adding that Petrucci thought it was a copy while Sinibaldi was inclined to see it as an original.

Evelina Borea, in Primato del disegno, 1980, 191, under no. 453, as a copy of a lost drawing.

Grandi disegni, [1981], 42, as probably by Rosso.

Darragon, 1983, 50, Fig. 29, as a copy of a lost drawing of 1528.

Carroll, 1987, 25, 34, n. 66.

Franklin, 1994, 202, 203, Pl. 161, as an anonymous copy of a lost drawing by Rosso for the Christ in Glory.

The drawing is clearly not copied from Rosso’s Christ in Glory (Fig.P.20a) and yet is so closely related to it that it must be considered a study for the lower half of that altarpiece.  The drawing includes that area of the lower part of the painting from the back of the woman standing at the left to the right edge of the panel; the area to the left of the standing woman in the painting that contains a crouching black man wearing a turban is not found in the drawing.  (There is a very narrow strip of space here in the drawing in which something is drawn but not necessarily as part of the scene.)  Also missing from the drawing is the male figure, facing forward and wearing a helmet, in the center of the picture, but a few faint lines indicating an arm and the drapery that the painted figure holds suggest that a figure was planned for this area.  The small child seated in the lower right corner of the drawing is not found in the painting where, instead, there is a figure seen from the back holding a child.  The two heavily draped men at the right stand closer together in the drawing.  But the most significant difference lies in the posture of the figure right of center.  In the drawing his body is seen from the side and slightly from the back, but his head is visible only from the back.  His arms are flung forward toward the viewer of the picture and his legs are bent as he shifts his weight from the forward right foot to the inner left one.  In the painting, the figure in this place has become a woman holding a child, who stands erect and making a short step into the scene.  She is seen directly from the back with the head turned slightly to the left.  In all other respects, except for a few variations of details – there are no chickens in the foreground of the drawing – the lower part of the painting and of the drawing are the same.  But the change of this one figure alters the lower half of the picture from its original drama to a more architectonic support for the apparition above.

The expert draughtsmanship of the drawing, it should be pointed out, appears much more incisive and the contrasts of light and shade seem greater in photographs than in the drawing itself, which is quite pale.  The clearly drawn contours and the finely hatched shadows bring to mind the handling of some of Rosso’s nude studies made in Rome (Fig.D.12; Fig.D.16), but the tight, and yet elastic and subtly varied contours of those simple figured drawings are quite different from the softer and more flexible outlines of the drawing in Rome related to the Christ in Glory.  The drawing most resembles Rosso’s Allegory of the Immaculate Conception in the Uffizi (Fig.D.32), made for the Lagrime project very probably at the very beginning of Rosso’s work on it late in 1528 into early 1529.  This was very soon after the Christ in Glory was commissioned on 1 July 1528.  Both are compositional drawings in which the movement of the figures and the chiaroscuro of the draughtsmanship create a unification not required by the isolated figure drawings done in Rome.  A better comparison would be with the one original St. Roch drawing, the St. Roch Distributing His Inheritance to the Poor in the Louvre (Fig.D.13).  By 1528-1529, however, Rosso’s style had been seriously reformed under the influence of Michelangelo’s sculpture and drawing experienced by Rosso on a recent trip to Florence.  After many years of thinking otherwise, it now seems to me that this study for the Christ in Glory and the Uffizi Allegory of the Immaculate Conception are autograph drawings.  Their only real difference is the greater sharpness and finer shading of the study for the altarpiece that would be executed in oil, and the slightly broader draughtsmanship of the drawing intended as a study for a fresco.

The drawing in Rome has to be seen with the copy in the Uffizi (D.28) of a lost study for the lower part of the same painting.  Both drawings, the original in Rome and the lost original of the copy, would have been done shortly after 1 July 1528, when the Christ in Glory was commissioned, and shortly after a trip that Rosso took to Florence after completing the Pietà in Borgo Sansepolcro in 1527-1528 (Fig.P.19a).  Both show the influence of Michelangelo’s most recent art that can also be seen in Rosso’s immediately subsequent Allegory of the Immaculate Conception, mentioned above, done for S. Maria delle Lagrime in Arezzo at the beginning of Rosso’s work on that project commissioned on 28 November 1528.  The style of the drawing in Rome and the Allegory drawing is different from that of the Sansepolcro Pietà, the particular Michelangelesque aspects of which seem to reflect an earlier trip to Florence made late in 1527 or early in 1528, and different, too, from the style of the later Lagrime designs, the Throne of Solomon (Fig.D.34) and the Allegory of the Virgin (Fig.D.33Aa) of 1529.  The Christ in Glory as executed in 1529-1530 shows changes in the lower half of its composition from what appears in the Rome drawing toward a greater symmetry comparable to the formality that appears in the later Lagrime compositions.  The autograph drawing in Rome would date before the late summer or early autumn of 1528 when Rosso became ill and left Città di Castello.

Accepted as Rosso’s, the study in Rome becomes the only drawing by him in Italy that uses red chalk in one detail.  Many of Rosso’s red chalk drawings are done on an underdrawing in black chalk.  Shortly thereafter, however, in his early French St. Jerome (Fig.D.45a), he allows the pre-drawing black chalk to remain to have its own effect on the finished work.  But this combination was never as fully realized as it appears in one detail in the study of 1528.


See COPY, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, no. A3135, Copy(?) of the figures of the Magdalen and the Virgin, under P.20, Christ in Glory, as possibly copied from a lost drawing by Rosso for his altarpiece in Città di Castello (Fig.P.20Copy, Amsterdam).