D.40A (COPY?) Last Supper

D.40A (COPY?) Last Supper

c. 1530

Florence, Biblioteca Marucelliana, Vol. A, no. 119.


Pen and ink and wash, heightened with white, on light brown washed paper, 23.9 x 35.8, the upper corners cut.  Two curved lines at the upper left and right indicate a lunette shape for the area of the composition, suggesting that the top of the drawing may have been cut off.


Catalogo dei disegni della Biblioteca Marucelliana (A-O), ms., as anonymous, XVIIth century, copy after Parmigianino.

Carroll, 1964 (1976), I, Bk. I, 210-212, 216, II, Bk. II, 320-321, D.33, Bk. III, Fig. 93, as a copy of a lost drawing; “Addition to the Preface,” 1976, vii, as autograph.

Shearman, BM, 1966, 171, n. 39, as a copy of a drawing by Rosso of around 1528.

Darragon, 1983, 45, 47, n. 12, as a copy, and as an amusing parody of Florentine Last Suppers.

Brunetti, Giulia, I disegni dei secoli XV e XVI della Biblioteca Marucelliana di Firenze, revised by Rossella Todros, Rome, 1990, 28, no. 67, Fig. 67, as a copy after Rosso.

Stylistically, this Last Supper is closely related to Rosso’s Throne of Solomon of 1529 (Fig.D.34), to his Standing Apostle of the same year (Fig.D.36a), to his Design for a Chapel of 1529-1530 (Fig.D.37a), and to his Mars and Venus of 1530 (Fig.D.42a).  The types of figures in the drawing are also found in Rosso’s Madonna della Misericordia of 1529 (Fig.D.35a) and in his Pietà in Borgo Sansepolcro (Fig.P.19a).  Graphically, the drawing is like the Mars and Venus, which is also executed in pen and ink and wash, heightened with white, on brown tinted paper.  Where the Last Supper is broadly executed it resembles also the center “altarpiece” of the Design for a Chapel.  Although the Last Supper presents a somewhat colloquial interpretation of its subject, it is clearly recognizable as Rosso’s.

Although I used to agree with Shearman that the drawing is a copy, it seems to me now that this may not be the case.  Certain parts of the drawing, such as the head to the left of Christ and the two heads facing each other at the upper right, are, it is true, executed in a rather perfunctory manner, but many details, such as the head with long upswept hair at the right, are executed with expert verve.  In general, the penmanship is sure and the washes and highlights are deftly applied. Although the Last Supper is not brilliantly executed like the Mars and Venus, its draughtsmanship is similar to the somewhat matter-of-fact but masterful handling of the Design for an Altar (Fig.D.38a).  Thus, while the drawing could be an extraordinarily good copy, it could well be, as much of it suggests, an autograph work, even if not in all respects a drawing up to the level that is generally expected of Rosso.

The drawing, or the lost original, may have been done in 1530.  There is a suggestion in the appearance and characterization of the figures and in the active informality of the scene that recalls Dürer’s woodcuts of the Last Supper from the Large Passion (Fig.Dürer, B.14) and from the Small Passion (Fig.Dürer, B.41).  It could have been done about the same time as the lost original of Rosso’s Christ in Limbo (Fig.D.40B), also related to prints by Dürer, which could date from the time of Rosso’s stay in Venice.

The sleeves wide at the shoulders and tapering to the wrists of several figures in the Last Supper recall the costume worn by the young man in Rosso’s portrait in Naples that would seem also to have been done in Venice.