D.68 Seated Male Nude

D.68 Seated Male Nude

c. 1536

London, British Museum, no. 1946-7-13-513.

Fig.D.68b bw

Red chalk, 36 x 21.3, including a strip along the irregularly torn left edge of the sheet upon which is drawn a small part of the back of the figure; a tear at the left, repaired; stained here and there, especially at the edges and along a crease near the bottom; wm?.  Inscribed in pencil at the lower left: 1446, and on the verso: 25/2 (see Woodburn sale below).

PROVENANCE: Sir Thomas Lawrence (Lugt 2445); unidentified collector’s mark at upper right; S. Woodburn sale, Christie’s, 4 June 1860, lot 25 (12); Sir Thomas Phillips to his grandson T. Fitzroy Phillips Fenwick (see Popham, below).  See Béguin below on reference to F. Fitz Roy Collection.


Popham, 1935, 34, no. 4, gives Friedrich Antal’s attribution to Boscoli.

Carroll, 1964 (1976), I, Bk. I, 254-257, II, Bk. II, 419-422, D.50, Bk. III, Fig. 129, as Rosso, around 1536-1538.

Carroll, 1966, 172, Fig. 8, 176, as Rosso, between c. 1536 and c. 1538.

Béguin, in EdF, 1972, 180, Fig., 183, under no. 205, no. 206, as Rosso, from his French period and related to his Narcissus, to his Pietà in the Louvre, and to his Leda in London; she mentions the mark of F. Fitz Roy at lower left.

Carroll, 1978, 25, 27, Fig. 6, as Rosso, c. 1536-1538.

Turner, 1986, 148, no. 106, as Rosso, of unspecified date.

Carroll, 1987, 304-306, no. 97, with Fig., as Rosso, c. 1536.

Franklin, 1988, 326, no. 97, believes it dates from the mid-1520s.

Miller, 1992, 112, found it difficult to accept my dating of the drawing ca. 1536.

Joukovsky, 1992, 56, n. 3, mentioned the influence of Michelangelo as remarked by Carroll.

Franklin, 1994, 133, Pl. 96, 283, n. 50, as Rosso, Michelangelesque, and Roman in date, not French.

The attribution of this drawing to Rosso, first made by Popham after the drawing entered the British Museum in 1946, is supported by the draughtsmanship of the drawing and by the image of the nude.  Calculated above all else to describe every nuance of light and shade reflected and cast by the undulating surface of this bulky, muscular nude, the draughtsmanship of this drawing closely resembles the handling of such drawings as Rosso’s study (Fig.D.7) for the figure of St. Sebastian in the Dei Altarpiece of 1522, the Seated Male Nude of around 1523, in the Uffizi (Fig.D.9), the Nude with a Standard of around 1524, also in the Uffizi (Fig.D.12), and the four Gods in Niches done in 1526: Pluto (Fig.D.17A), Proserpina (Fig.D.17B), Mars (Fig.D.17C), and Bacchus (Fig.D18a).  The claim of Rosso’s authorship of the drawing is strengthened by the recognition that the type of heavy figure represented here is found elsewhere, and not infrequently, in Rosso’s works.  The representations of Adam in the frescoes in S. Maria della Pace (Fig.P.17a), the figure of Christ in the Boston Dead Christ (Fig.P.18a), and the saint in the St. Roch Distributing His Inheritance to the Poor (Fig.D.13), all Roman works by Rosso, are quite similar to the figure in the London drawing.  Furthermore, the posture of the figure is almost identical, though in reverse, to Rosso’s Seated Male Nude of around 1523 (Fig.D.9).  The interlocked legs are also similar to those in the Boston picture.

Although the drawing is most easily demonstrated as a work by Rosso with the stylistic evidence supplied by material that survives largely from his Roman period, it does not seem to have been done then, as Franklin thought.  Graphically, the draughtsmanship of this study, fine as it is, lacks the particular incisive quality of even the more softly drawn Roman works, such as the original St. Roch drawing in the Louvre, and the Gods in Niches mentioned above.  The contrast is even greater between the handling of the British Museum drawing and the sharp draughtsmanship of the Roman Seated Woman in a Niche (Fig.D.11) and the Standing Bearded Nude (Fig.D.16), both in the Uffizi.  Furthermore, the extraordinarily bulky Seated Male Nude is, as a figure-type, not specifically related to the large, but tightly muscular, figures of Rosso’s Roman period, including those of the Cesi Chapel frescoes (Fig.P.17a) and of the drawing for Eve (Fig.D.10) made for one of these paintings, which shows quite a different draughtsmanship.

Although this drawing has, figuratively, almost nothing in common with Rosso’s Madonna della Misericordia of 1529 (Fig.D.35a), the extremely delicate shading and the very thin, hair like contours of that drawing are very similar to those in the London drawing, suggesting that the latter may date rather late in Rosso’s career.  It is, in fact, among the decorations of the Gallery of Francis I that we find several figures to which the Seated Male Nude is more closely related than to any other of Rosso’s male nudes.  The giants painted at either side of the Education of Achilles (Fig.P.22, II N b and Fig.P.22, II N c) and the crouching nude depicted in the lower right corner of the wall with the Death of Adonis (Fig.P.22, III S c) are extremely similar to the nude figure in London.  All of these figures have the same broad torsos, bulky chests, and thickset limbs.  The face of the Seated Male Nude closely resembles that of the Michelangelesque giant at the right of the Education of Achilles.  As the flanking nudes of that wall and the entire decoration of the Death of Adonis wall would seem to have been designed between August and November 1536, the London drawing that is stylistically comparable to these parts of the gallery would appear to have been done around the same time.