D.60 (COPY) Twins of Catania

D.60 (COPY) Twins of Catania

For the Fresco in the Gallery of Francis I, Fontainebleau

1535 or 1536

Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, no. A 2178.


Pen and ink and red chalk over very slight traces of black chalk, the pen lines indented with a stylus, 28.6 x 43.7.  Creased down the center, a small hole at the lower left.  Inscribed (in pencil?) in the lower right corner: 86; noted on the verso: related to Rene Boyvin print R.D.7. [a mistake for 17].

PROVENANCE: J. Pz. Zoomer (Lugt 1511).


Béguin and Pressouyre, 1972, 134, as a precise copy possibly of a drawing by Rosso.

Carroll, 1987, 44, 256, 259, n. 1, under no. 80, as a copy of a lost drawing by Rosso.

This drawing is the model for Boyvin’s reversed but otherwise identical engraving of exactly the same size (Fig.E.11).  In the drawing, the ribbing on the coffer just left of center is drawn with the stylus alone and this ribbing is reproduced in the print.1  The drawing differs from this scene in the Gallery of Francis I (Fig.P.22, V N a) by showing the woman at the far left with bare breast, shoulder, arm, and leg, by the design of the ribbing on the boxes at left of center, and by the details of the architecture and landscape in the background.  Also, there is a total absence of fire in the drawing.  Consequently, it can be concluded that the drawing was not copied from the fresco.

The penmanship of the drawing is a very regularized and thickened version of the kind of draughtsmanship that appears in Rosso’s Annunciation in the Albertina (Fig.D.43a) and in his Petrarch drawing at Christ Church (Fig.D.47a).  So close is the correspondence that it must be recognized that at least the penmanship of the drawing, which is too regular to be Rosso’s own, is very specifically derived from a lost drawing by him.  This conclusion is supported by the differences between the Amsterdam drawing and the fresco at Fontainebleau.  The red chalk shading in the copy, in spite of a certain fineness that looks somewhat like that in Rosso’s four disegni di stampe for the Gods in Niches, the Pluto (Fig.D.17A), the Proserpina (Fig.D.17B), the Mars (Fig.D.17C), and the Bacchus (Fig.D.18a), is also too regular to be Rosso’s.  Furthermore, there is no drawing certainly by Rosso that shows this combination of pen outlines and red chalk shading.  It is, therefore, very unlikely that the lost original drawing showed this combination of these media.  Most probably the drawing was modelled with washes and, as shown in one of the copies of Rosso’s study for the early version of the Scene of Sacrifice (Fig.D.50B), had white highlights and a dark ground.  It would also, then, have resembled the Albertina Annunciation and the Petrarch drawing.

As discussed in P.22 and in Chapter VIII, the Twins of Catania would seem to have been designed in 1535 or 1536.  Therefore, the lost drawing would also have been done in one of these years.

The draughtsmanship of the copy, with its very explicit pen lines and its careful shading, would appear to be a translation of Rosso’s drawing – executed in pen and ink and wash, heightened with white, on a dark washed ground – for the purpose of making a model from which the engraving could be directly made.  For this reason, the copy has a claim to being by Boyvin.  However, it is also possible that it was made by someone in his shop whose responsibility it was to make such careful disegni di stampe.


1 The stylus marks would seem to have been made on top of the chalk shading on the box and not vice versa, indicating probably that the stylus marks throughout the drawing were made to transfer the design onto the engraver’s plate rather than to trace Rosso’s original drawing.  But I am not certain of this.