RD.3 Draped Old Woman Carrying a Bundle on Her Head

RD.3 Draped Old Woman

Chatsworth, The Chatsworth House Trust, no. 712.


Red chalk, 27.5 x 13.8; laid down.  The area from just above the waist band down to the figure’s left hand is gone over with a much darker red chalk with perhaps touches of this same chalk on the flounces behind; these are not necessarily by another hand.

PROVENANCE: Nicolaes Anthoni Flink (Lugt 959).  William, 2nd Duke of Devonshire (Lugt 718).  There is a B in the lower left corner, probably an unidentified mark (see Lugt 322).


Mrs. A. Strong, Catalogue of Drawings in the Collection of the Duke of Devonshire (typescript), 1929, no. 712.

Kusenberg, 1931, 135, 139, no. 5, Pl. LXVII, as Rosso, before 1523.

Delacre, 1938, 229, mentioned in relation to an old attribution to Michelangelo.

Barocchi, 1950, 200, n. 3, Fig. 161, as a youthful drawing by Rosso.

Longhi, 1951, 59 (1976, 99), as not by Rosso.

Antal, 1956, 40, 59, n. 46, as Rosso.

Parker, 1956, 113, under no. 236, as Rosso.

A. E. Popham, in Old Master Drawings from Chatsworth, exh. cat., Washington, 1962-1963, 32, no. 66, Fig. 66, as Rosso.  Carroll, 1964 (1976), II, Bk. 2, 449-450, F. 3, 535-536, Bk. 3, Fig. 140, as an early drawing by Bandinelli, around 1516.

F. G. Grossman, in Between Renaissance and Baroque, 1965, 109, no. 367, as Rosso.

Carroll, 1971, 26, 35, n. 32, as Bandinelli in the second decade of the sixteenth century.

McKillop, 1974, 224, under Uffizi 655E, as Rosso.

Ward, 1988, 35-37, no. 15, 99, Fig., as Rosso in a “Bandinellian idiom” in the months before Bandinelli’s departure for Loreto, where he was no later than April 1518.

Jaffé, 1994, T and U, 90, no. 58 (712), as Rosso, in a Bandinellian idiom c. 1516-1517, and related to Rosso’s drawing of an Old Testament Scene in the British Museum [RD.19].  Jaffé, 1995, no. 21, Color Pl., as Rosso.

It seems that at one time the drawing was attributed to Parmigianino, according to a note on the Braun photograph (74154) in the Cabinet des Dessins in the Louvre.  A note at Chatsworth indicates that the attribution to Rosso was made by Loeser and Colvin; it was first published as his by Kusenberg in 1931.

The drawing appears to be related to a drawing in the British Museum of an Old Testament Scene (Fig.RD.19, recto), which shows in the distance several figures in profile carrying bundles on their heads and one very similar to the Chatsworth figure.  This relationship was also recognized by Ward.  But whereas I thought the British Museum drawing was not by Rosso, as did Longhi, but by Bandinelli around 1516, Ward returned it to Rosso at a time when, Ward believed, he was very much influenced by Bandinelli in the months prior to the sculptor’s departure for Loreto, indicating a date in late 1517 or early 1518.  Ward recognized this also for the Old Testament Scene, which I had also taken from Rosso and ascribed to Bandinelli around 1516.  Jaffé accepted Ward’s attributions and dating.

It should be noted that Ward’s extensive discussion of the Chatsworth drawing is an argument as to why it is not by Bandinelli, commenting that the “degree of schematization and abstraction throughout the entire drawing have no real equivalents in any of BB’s red chalk studies of the 1510s, much less the manner in which the structure of the body has been virtually obscured by the garments which wrap around it.”  He did not say why these and other characteristics that he identified – the “generalized pattern of light and shade” and the “superficial and decorative qualities of form” – were identifiable with Rosso.  I see no reason to return the drawing, and the related Old Testament Scene, to Rosso, as they resemble no drawings that can be securely attributed to him.  Compared with such drawings as the Study for an Altarpiece of around 1519 (Fig.D.4) and the Standing Nude Woman of around 1520 (Fig.D.5), the Chatsworth and London drawings are not significantly enough schematized and abstract and superficial and decorative to be Rosso’s.

Consideration of the authorship of the Chatsworth drawing involves not only the Old Testament Scene in London, but also several other drawings that have, I believe, been wrongly given to Rosso in the past.  These are: the Nude Youth and Elderly Bearded Nude (Fig.RD.8, recto; Fig.RD.8, verso), the so-called “Pompeian Scene” (Fig.RD.9), the Draped Saint Gesturing with His Right Hand (Fig.RD.11), the Nude Warrior (Fig.RD.12), and the Nude Old Man (Fig.RD.14), all in the Uffizi, and the Two Old Women Conversing in the Hermitage (Fig.RD.35).  I find it very likely that all of these drawings are by the same artist or by very closely related artists.  I thought they were all by Bandinelli.  Ward catalogued none of them as his in 1982.

Returning to the Chatsworth drawing, it might be of some help to bring up the copy of it (see COPY below) in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (Fig.RD.3, Copy).  This very refined pen and ink drawing has for a long time been attributed to Battista Franco, and correctly so, I believe.  It seems equally certain that Franco’s meticulous drawing is copied from the Chatsworth sheet and not the reverse.  As Franco’s drawing appears in so many respects to have been done directly from the Chatsworth drawing, which in a variety of small ways it corrects and makes more finished, there is no need to posit that they come from a common model.  We cannot be sure when and where Franco made his copy of this Florentine drawing, but it is reasonable to assume either that he made it in Florence, or that he obtained the drawing in Florence and made his copy later elsewhere.  In any case, the drawing would have been available to him while he was in Florence from 1536 until 1541, when he was again in Rome.  He is not recorded as having been in Florence later, although he could have visited it from Rome or Urbino, where he was active, at any time prior, probably, to his return to Venice in 1554.  The Ashmolean drawing would seem, therefore, not to have been done before 1536, and most probably before 1554.  It is very likely that it was, in fact, done in Florence, where, as Rearick pointed out, extrapolating from Vasari, Franco continued to draw from works of art, specifically Michelangelo’s, as he had earlier, and “sketched copies of the works of Florentine contemporaries.”1  Vasari also remarked on his study of ancient sculpture when he returned to Rome.2  Although a full study has not been made of Franco’s copies, there is a drawing after the antique that was certainly made in Florence, indicating that Franco’s activity of copying works of art did in fact continue in Florence.3  Vasari said that while studying Michelangelo’s statues in the Medici Chapel, Franco met many of the sculptors and painters of Florence, “fra essi acquistò assai.”  He was a friend of Ammanati, again according to Vasari, and of Raffaello da Montelupo, who brought him to Florence.  For the decorations made for the entry of Charles V into Florence in 1536, he painted a pedestal for a statue by Montorsoli.  His study of ancient art and of Michelangelo’s and his friendship with Florentine sculptors indicate a certain preference for sculpture.  This may be why he made the Ashmolean copy of the Chatsworth drawing, because it is by a sculptor, and probably by a sculptor he personally knew.

It is also very likely that Franco drew from a drawing that had recently been made, not one done several decades earlier.  The Old Testament Scene to which the Chatsworth figure is related can be associated with a drawing by Bandinelli of the Scene of Exodus in the Uffizi (Fig.Bandinelli, Exodus), which Ward dated 1547-1548 and recognized, following Forlani, as a study for one of the Old Testament reliefs planned for the recinto of the choir of the Florentine cathedral.4  I had thought this drawing was much earlier,5 as I did the Old Testament Scene that I thought was by Bandinelli.  I also thought the Old Testament Scene was related to the Entombment in the Horne Museum in Florence (Fig.Bandinelli, Entombment), which I judged again an early drawing by Bandinelli6 and which Ward dated about the same time as the Scene of Exodus.7  Ward does not think the Old Testament Scene is by Bandinelli, but instead by Rosso.  I do not think it can be by the latter, but I continue to see the relation to the drawings by Bandinelli that Ward would date around 1547-1548.  I would, therefore, conclude that the Old Testament Scene and the related Draped Old Woman Carrying a Bundle on Her Head were done about the same time when Bandinelli was making drawings of Old Testament scenes for the reliefs of the recinto for the choir of the cathedral, and if not by Bandinelli then by a pupil, assistant, or close follower of his in Florence.  When more is known about these artists, their drawings, and their relation to Bandinelli’s, the draughtsman of the Chatsworth and London drawings, as well as of the other drawings that can be related to them, may be identifiable.  I suspect that he was an artist, probably a sculptor, who made the Chatsworth sheet available to Franco.

COPY: Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, no. R.33.236 (Fig.RD.3, Copy).  Pen and ink over slight traces of red and black chalk, 29.4 x 12.6.  (On the verso, a sketch of a nude body, and the inscription: di mano di Michelangnolo Bu…)  LITERATURE: Kusenberg, 1931, 148, no. 6a, as by Battista Franco.  Parker, 1956, 112-113, no. 236, with provenance and other literature, as Franco.

The attribution to Franco goes back to Robinson, according to Parker, and was supported by Berenson (no. 1707), but Kusenberg was the first to relate it to the Chatsworth drawing.  The drawing should be compared with Franco’s pen and ink drawings in Edinburgh (Andrews, 1968, 52-53, D 1591 and D 666 recto, II, Figs. 373-374, and Rearick, 1959, 116, Fig. 5 [D 1591]).


1 Rearick, 1959, 109, and Vasari-Milanesi, VI, 574.

2 Vasari-Milanesi, VI, 583.

3 See his copy of the statue of the Priestess of Romulus in the Loggia dei Lanzi in Edinburgh (Andrews, 1968, I, 52-53, D 666 recto, II, Fig. 374).  The sketches surrounding this figure and on the verso of the sheet do not seem to be from the antique.  Andrews dated this drawing before 1530, based on the assumption that all such copies after the antique that were made belong solely to Franco’s earliest artistic activity.  But Vasari’s account of Franco’s study of the art of others as well as the provenance of the statue that is copied in this drawing clearly indicate that such was not the case.

4 504F recto.  Ward, 1982, 216, no. 50, as seeming “to represent the advent of The Deluge (Genesis 7:13-24).”

5 Carroll, 1964 (1976), II, Bk. 2, 536-537, Bk. 3, Fig. 223 (as a Scene of Exodus).

6 5608.  Carroll, 1964 (1976), II, Bk. 2, 536, Bk. 3, Fig. 226.

8 Ward, 1982, 208-210, no. 38, Fig. 245, as The Deposition.