Cartouche with Two Heavily Draped Slouching Figures Above Framing a Small Blank Square
Possibly after Rosso.
Etching by Antonio Fantuzzi, 37.4 x 24.4 S (Paris).
Herbet, II, 1896, 273 (1969, 69), 14, as Fantuzzi and seeming to be of a ceiling. Zerner, 1969, XI, and A.F.40 (Paris), as probably 1542.
COLLECTIONS: Paris, Ed 14d. Vienna, Vol. It.III.3, p.42.
Berliner, 1925-1926, I, Pl. 114, Text Volume, 41, as Fantuzzi.
Kusenberg, 1931, 166, as Fantuzzi.
Zerner, in EdF, 1972, 268, Fig., 269, no. 317 (Paris).
Kusenberg thought this cartouche was in the style of Rosso and perhaps after a lost decoration at Fontainebleau. Zerner stated that the audacity of the design suggests Rosso and that the foreshortenings of the figures in it may indicate the decoration of a ceiling, as Herbet also thought. The design is conceived as seen straight on in the very center and the foreshortenings are made from this position looking up and looking down. Foreshortenings are also made to indicate the depth of the forms and the backward and forward leanings of the figures. There is also a decided top and bottom to the composition and the blank square is not in the very center of the cartouche. It is therefore not necessary to recognize this design as intended for a ceiling. There is no record of Rosso having made ceiling compositions and the ceiling of the Gallery of Francis I, not, it would seem, designed by him, is of an entirely different kind. One might add that at the time that Rosso was in France and this etching was made, ceilings in France were beamed with coffering.
Much of the vocabulary of this etching can be found in the Gallery of Francis I, and the design as a whole has, as Zerner saw, an audacity that encourages one to attribute it to Rosso. However, neither in the gallery nor anywhere else in Rosso’s art are there figures quite like the heavily draped slouching ones at the top of this cartouche or like the two reclining youths below, although the sleeping one at the right bears some resemblance to the sleeping figure in the Los Angeles painting (Fig.P.24a). At the very bottom, the two embracing half-human, half-animal and winged creatures are also not found in Rosso’s art, although they can to some extent be related to the monsters that decorate the altar in the Scene of Sacrifice (Fig.P.22, VII N c) and the amorous beast in the Loss of Perpetual Youth in the gallery (Fig.P.22, II S e). Still, there is about the design a certain heaviness of form that makes one wonder if it really is Rosso’s. It could be by Thiry in an especially robust moment, or by Fantuzzi himself, both inspired by Rosso. This print is catalogued here to preserve the possibility that Rosso is the author of its composition, reflecting an aspect of his style not quite seen elsewhere. If by Rosso, it would seem to have been done not before around 1535 or 1536, when his style assumes a largeness of form and a complexity in the postures of his figures that are seen in this etching. In these respects, the print should be compared with the Enlightenment of Francis I (Fig.P.22, VII S a) and the Combat of Centaurs and Lapiths in the Gallery of Francis I (Fig.P.22, I S a).
COPIES, PRINTS: E.56,2. Du Cerceau, etching. Herbet, IV, 1900, 301 (1969, 151), V (Grands Cartouches, Second Set), 2.
E.57,2. Du Cerceau, etching. Herbet, IV, 1900, 303 (1969, 153), VI (Petits Cartouches), 3.