D.55 (COPY) Unity Of The State

D.55 (COPY) Unity of the State

For the Fresco in the Gallery of Francis I, Fontainebleau

c. 1531/1532-1534

Paris, Louvre, Inv. 8884.

Fig.D.55b bw

Pen and ink, point of brush, wash, heightened with white on yellow-tan tinted paper, 25.4 x 39.2.


Carroll, 1961, 450, n. 18, as related graphically to several other copies after Rosso [on which see below].

Béguin and Pressouyre, 1972, 137, Fig. 204, as, given variations, either a copy of a lost project for Rosso’s Unity of the State, or a personal interpretation of the painting.

Carroll, 1987, 274, n. 1, under no. 86, as a free copy of a lost drawing by Rosso.

The drawing shows Rosso’s Unity of the State in the same direction as the fresco in the Gallery of Francis I (Fig.P.22, VI S a), but the composition is spatially opened up at the left.  The proportions of the figures are elongated and the figure at the far left is shown briskly walking into the scene.  A variety of details in the drawing – the lion’s head at the shoulder of the central figure (not so central in the drawing), the armor of the soldier seen from the back at the left, the costume of the kneeling figure, the line of the hem of the garment of the figure in the right foreground – suggest that the drawing is not derived from the fresco.  Nor is it copied from Fantuzzi’s reversed etching (Fig.E.66) or from the Vienna tapestry (Fig.P.22, VI S,Tapestry, a).  The drawing must, therefore, go back to a lost drawing by Rosso, details of which were changed when the scene was painted in the gallery.  As the Unity of the State seems to have been invented in the first period of Rosso’s activity on the decorations of the Gallery of Francis I, the lost drawing would have been done between c. 1531/1532 and 1534 (see P.22).

It is probable that the lost drawing was executed in pen and ink and wash, heightened with white, on dark washed paper, resembling Rosso’s drawing for his early version of the Scene of Sacrifice (Fig.D.50B).  Thus it would seem that the copy preserves something of the technique of the lost original.  But otherwise the copy gives almost no indications of Rosso’s draughtsmanship, which has been largely displaced by the personal graphic style of the copyist.  This might lead one to suspect that the differences of details of the drawing from the fresco, print, and tapestry are due also to the draughtsman, but these details are themselves quite within the possibilities of Rosso’s art and give no indication of any willful distortion of it.

The drawing is given to Biagio Pupini in the Louvre, an attribution not accepted by Béguin and Pressouyre.  However, the drawing does resemble the Adoration of the Magi (Fig.Pupini, Windsor) at Windsor Castle (0314) attributed by Popham to Pupini (Popham and Wilde, 1949, 306, no. 782, Pl. 98).  The graphic style of the copy also resembles that of two copies of two lost studies for Rosso’s Christ in Glory (Fig.D.27A and Fig.D.28), and of a partial copy of Caraglio’s Hercules Shooting Nessus (Fig.Uffizi, 450S recto).