L.27 Two Drawings on Panel

1528 or 1529


In the inventory of 1532 of Rosso’s possessions that were left at S. Maria delle Lagrime when he fled Arezzo in 1529 (see DOC.13) there is listed “doi desegni in assi, overo in tavole.”  These would seem to be two small panel paintings, possibly “bozze” in color to serve those who were to execute the frescoes planned for the church of S. Maria delle Lagrime in Arezzo (see the Preface to D.31-34 and the related entries).  That Rosso made oil sketches may be indicated by Vasari’s reference to a “bozza” of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist that he executed in Rome, but that painting could have been a small, freely executed painting not made as a study for a larger picture (see L.19).  After his flight from Rome, only two completed works by Rosso could have had oil sketches made for them, the Pietà in Borgo Sansepolcro, which was executed before Rosso settled in Arezzo, and the Christ in Glory in Città di Castello, which had been begun before but was finished after this stay in Arezzo.  Drawings are known for both, but no oil sketches exist nor are known to have been made for them.  The “desegni” could have been two of the many drawings that, according to Vasari (1568, II, 209; Vasari-Milanesi, V, 165), Rosso made in and around Arezzo for pictures and buildings (see D.35 and L.33).  It is possible that the lost works were paintings such as the small St. John the Baptist of 1521-1522 (P.11), which is not known to have been made as a study for a larger picture.  Franklin, 1995, 236, refers to these two works as “panels with drawing on them,” as “underdrawn panels,” and as “panel paintings,” and comments on them as additions to the only other post-Roman panel paintings by Rosso that we know of, the Sansepolcro and Città di Castello altarpieces.  But as the inventory refers to them as “desegni,” they were not comparable to those large works of the same size but were most likely sketches or studies.  A document of 17 March 1567 (see L.26, n. 2) that allows for the sale of “colori” left behind by Rosso in Arezzo also includes for sale “una tavoletta di bosso [sic]” that could be a small panel for painting (of boxwood?).