D.59 (COPY) Revenge of Nauplius

D.59 (COPY) Revenge of Nauplius

For the Fresco in the Gallery of Francis I, Fontainebleau

1535 or 1536

Besançon, Musée des Beaux-Arts, no. D.3116.


Pen and ink over black chalk, 28.4 x 43.4.  Creased down the center, and slightly stained here and there, especially at the upper left and right.  Inscribed in ink at the lower left: D.3.116.

PROVENANCE: Jean Gigoux (Lugt 1164); given to the museum in 1896 (Lugt 238a).


Carroll, 1987, 238, 241, n. 1, under no. 74, as a copy of a lost drawing by Rosso.

As discussed in P.22, III N, and in Chapter VIII, this drawing is a copy of a lost drawing by Rosso for his fresco of the Revenge of Nauplius in the Gallery of Francis I (Fig.P.22, III N a).  Besides showing the flying hair of some of the figures and the prows of some of the ships differently from their appearance in the fresco, the drawing also shows Nauplius’s genitals exposed while they are covered with drapery in the painting.  The drawing was not copied from Fantuzzi’s reversed etching of this scene (Fig.E.71), which, like the fresco, shows Nauplius’s genitals covered.

The studied penmanship of the drawing comes very close to Rosso’s as it can be seen in his Design for an Altar (Fig.D.38a), in his Annunciation in Vienna (Fig.D.43a), and in his Petrarch drawing at Christ Church (Fig.D.47a).  But it is clear that the Nauplius drawing is too methodically executed to be an original work by Rosso.  Its draughtsmanship also resembles that of the Pandora and Her Box (Fig.D.67a), although the lost original of the Besançon drawing would seem, from the copy, to have been not so swiftly executed as that drawing.

Furthermore, it is most likely that the lost original of the Nauplius drawing was not executed only with pen and ink; it must have had washes.  It is also very possible that it was heightened with white and was done on a dark ground, like the study for the early version of the Scene of Sacrifice known from several copies (Fig.D.50B).  The lost Nauplius drawing would, then, have also resembled the other three drawings mentioned above.  Only the pen lines have been reproduced by the copyist, as frequently is the case with copies of the drawings made for the gallery.

As the Nauplius scene would seem to have been designed in 1535 or 1536, in a period when the influence of Michelangelo’s art is first especially noticeable in work done for the gallery and here of Michelangelo’s studies for his Last Judgement – so, too, the lost Nauplius drawing would have been done in one of these years (see P.22).

A note at Besançon suggests that Boyvin may be the author of this drawing, but there is no way to prove such an attribution.  It may be pointed out, however, that Boyvin did not engrave this composition.  The copy may be by the same hand as the copy in the Ensba, Paris (Fig.D.64) of a lost drawing for the final version of the Scene of Sacrifice in the Gallery of Francis I.

PRINT. Du Cerceau, E.59 (Fig.E.59).  Design for the Decoration of a Cup or Bowl with Scenes of Figures and Ships in a Storm at Sea, etching, showing the Nauplius figure with his genitals exposed and thus possibly dependent on either Rosso’s lost drawing or on a copy of it.