L.23 Model for the Fresco Project for the Church of S. Maria delle Lagrime, Arezzo


On this project and its documentation, see the Preface to D.31-34 and the related entries.

Vasari, 1568, II, 208 (Vasari-Milanesi, V, 164): “A compiacenzo del quale [i.e. Giovanni Pollastra] fece il Rosso un bellissimo modello di tutta l’opera, che è hoggi nelle nostre case d’Arezzo.”  It was Pollastra who devised the iconographic scheme for this project.  As Vasari indicated, Rosso made this “modello” for Pollastra (died c. 1541-1542).1  By 1568 it was in Vasari’s house in Arezzo.2

It cannot be determined with certainty what Vasari was referring to by his phrase: “bellissimo modello di tutta l’opera.”  He may have meant a wood and plaster architectural model of the atrium of S. Maria delle Lagrime fully painted by Rosso with the scenes that were to be frescoed.  Ragghianti Collobi, 1974, 118, suggested instead that what is meant is several drawings for this project.  It should be pointed out that this is the only reference to a “modello” in Vasari’s “Life” of Rosso.  As the “modello” was of the entire work it must have been done in 1529 for this project was first commissioned in November 1528.

Franklin, 1994, 236, thought that “uno catino de terra desegnato” of the 1532 inventory of Rosso’s possessions left behind when he fled Arezzo (DOC.13), which I thought (Carroll, 1987, 29) meant “a painted terra-cotta basin,” refers, through “catino” as an architectural term for a bowl-shaped vault, to a three-dimensional model that Rosso made for the Lagrime frescoes, and hence connected to the “modello” mentioned by Vasari.  This is very possible.3  The confraternity had “un catino e quattro cartoni” and a confraternity inventory of 1547 specifies “uno catino del disegno de la volta su la Madonna,” while in 1583 Giovanni de’Medici received from the confraternity not only Rosso’s “Cartoni” for the Lagrime project but also the “catino” (see L.26).  The “modello” of Vasari’s account was made for Pollastra, but it still could have been among the items that Rosso left behind when he fled Arezzo.  According to Vasari’s own account it was later owned by him, unless there was a second “modello,” which does not seem likely.  After his death in 1573 it would seem to have been returned to the confraternity.  In the documents of 1547 and 1583 the item in question is called a “catino,” while that in the inventory of Rosso’s possessions mentions it as made of “terra.”  If that “catino” is an architectural model, “terra” would refer to plaster.


1See A. Cecchi and J. Kliemann in Giorgio Vasari, 1981, 22, 103.

2 On the history of the contents of the house, see Berti, 1955, 6-7.

3 On the subject of the meaning of the word “modello” in the sixteenth century, see Cappel, Carmen Bambach, review of Michael Hirst, Michelangelo and His Drawings, New Haven and London, 1988, in AB, LXXII, 3, 1990, 493-498, Hirst’s letter in reply, in AB, LXXIV, 1, 1992, 172, where he quotes Vasari’s mention of Rosso’s “modello,” implying that it was a drawing, and Cappel’s reply in the same issue, 172-173, where the evidence tends to indicate that the word “modello” most often referred to an architectural model.