RD.9 “Pompeian Scene:” Three Groups of Figures Widely Separated in a Barren Open Space

RD.9 "Pompeian Scene"

Florence, Uffizi, no. 6476F.


Red chalk, 16.5 x 17.8; no wm.  Inscribed in ink on the verso: Il Rosso.


Berenson, 1903, 1938, 1961, no. 2408, as Rosso.

Kusenberg, 1931, 135, 139, as Rosso, around 1521.

Briganti, 1945, Fig. 29, as Rosso.

Barocchi, 1950, 202, Fig. 176, as Rosso, similar to the figures in the background of the Volterra Deposition and hence datable in 1521 (in n. 3, wrongly as with two nude studies on the verso).

Bologna and Causa, 1952, 59, Pl. 98, as Rosso.

Luisa Marcucci, in Mostra di disegni, 1954, 21, no. 29, as Rosso, and perhaps a study for the background of a picture.

Luisa Marcucci, in Het Eerste Manierisme, 1954, 41, no. 44, as above.

Thomas, 1959, 48, 47, Fig. 49, as Rosso, around 1527.

Forlani, [1964], 167, under no. 27, as Rosso, in a style paralleling the ornamental and allegorical “piccola manierismo” of Bachiacca.

Carroll, 1964 (1976), II, Bk. 2, 459-460, F. 10, 536, Bk. 3, Fig. 152, as Bandinelli, around 1516.

Hauser, 1965, II, Pl. 69, as Rosso.

Leoni Zanobini, 1986, 93, Fig. 2, captioned as by Rosso, and reproduced above a detail of the background of the Volterra Deposition.


The attribution of this drawing to Rosso, first published by Berenson in 1903, who described it as “curiously Pompeian,” has never been questioned except by me in 1964.  The attribution to Rosso must be largely dependent upon a similarity with the scene of the soldiers in the background of the Volterra Deposition.  But it cannot be shown that Rosso ever drew in the manner in which he painted these small figures.  Rosso’s Virtù Vanquishing Fortune of around 1521-1522 in Darmstadt (Fig.D.6a), which is compositionally similar to the “Pompeian Scene,” is drawn in a manner distinctly different from the handling of the Uffizi drawing.1

I had attributed the drawing to Bandinelli, dating it around 1516.  Ward did not include the drawing in his catalogue of 1982, indicating that he did not believe in this attribution.  I still think this drawing can be related to a number of other drawings that I believe have been wrongly given to Rosso (see RD.3).  It is similar to the Old Testament Scene (Fig.RD.19, recto), which in turn seems associable with Bandinelli’s Scene of Exodus (Fig.Bandinelli, Exodus) that Ward, accepting as Bandinelli’s, dated 1547-1548 (see under RD.3).  The drapery of the figures at the upper left seems to me quite like that in the Entombment drawing (Fig.Bandinelli, Entombment) in the Horne Museum (5608) that Ward gave to Bandinelli and dated about the same time (see RD.3).  It is not at all clear what the “Pompeian Scene” represents.  At the lower right a small figure holds the train of a woman who forms part of a group of three.  One of these figures holds a long thin object that ends in a scroll resembling part of a viol-like instrument.  But it seems too long for such an instrument and hence may be something quite different, and for now not identifiable.  The scene could thematically be related to the Old Testament Scene and the Scene of Exodus.  The composition of separate groups of figures and the figures silhouetted in the background with some of them seen cut off by what must be the crest of a hill associate the drawing closely with the Old Testament Scene.  If not by Bandinelli, then it would seem to be by a pupil, assistant, or follower working in the mid- or late 1540s or thereabouts.  It might be of some interest to recall that Marcucci, for whom the drawing was Rosso’s, recognized that it anticipated “certe divagazioni formalistiche di Andrea Boscoli e, persino, la lontananza atmosferica di Jacques Callot.”

A raking light from the left casts sharp shadows, including one from something outside the scene.  There might be a suggestion of a flight of stairs at the upper right.  A draped woman at the upper left extends her right hand to a young draped girl, vaguely suggesting the presentation of the Virgin to the temple, to which one of the silhouetted figures could be pointing.  Might then the drawing be for a small predella panel wall after predellas had disappeared?


1 On the basis solely of the similarity of the drawing to painted figures, the “Pompeian Scene” could be attributed to Granacci (see Von Holst, 1974, Figs. 41, 48, 85, 97-105, 110), but when compared with his drawings of comparable figures (Von Holst, 1974, Figs. 108-109, 111), it is clear that it cannot be by him.  Comparison with painted figures might also incline one, wrongly, to attribute the Uffizi drawing to Peruzzi’s assistant, Bartolommeo di David, to whom certain frescoes in the castle at Belcaro have been attributed (see Fabio Bisogni, in Pittura, Cinquecento, 1988, I, 344-345, 347, Figs.).