RD.26 Costumed Male Figure Carrying a Small Decorated Box (A Rattle?)

RD.26 Costumed Male Figure

Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, B. 5 réserve, School of Fontainebleau, Vol. I, no. 30.


Pen and dark brown ink and brown wash, 30.1 x 19.5.

PROVENANCE (from Béguin, EdF, 1972): Perhaps from the collection of the Abbé de Marolles.  Library of the King, 1667.


Kusenberg, 1931, 137, 143, no. 59, Pl. LXXVI, as Rosso, 1530-1540.

Berenson, 1931, 1961, no. 2457A, as Rosso.

Kusenberg, 1939, 41, as attributed to Thiry.

Barocchi, 1950, 216, Fig. 194, as Rosso, done in his last years.

Barocchi, Commentari, 1951, 215, n. 4, as Rosso.

Carroll, 1964 (1976), I, Bk. I, 253, II, Bk. II, 416-418, D. 49 (COPY), Bk. III, Fig. 128, as a copy of a lost drawing by Rosso of ca. 1534-1536; “Preface,” 1976, I, Bk. I, vii, as not by Rosso.

Béguin, in Seizieme siècle… peintures et dessins, 1965-1966, 202, Fig., 204, no. 251, as Rosso, in his French period.

Shearman, BM, 1966, 67, as a copy (presumably after Rosso).

Berckenhagen, 1968, 12, and 1970, 32, as Boyvin.

Béguin, 1970, 92, as Boyvin.

Béguin, in EdF, 1972, 26, Fig., 28, no. 30, as Boyvin.

Clifford, 1974, 393, as Rosso.

Borea, 1980, 263, under no. 68, as Rosso, and related to Boyvin’s engraving of Costumed Male Figure Holding Two Torches.

K. Wilson-Chevalier, in Fontainebleau, 1985, 93, under no. 40, as related to Boyvin’s print of a similar costumed figure [see below].

Marianne Grivel, in Ronsard, 1985, 154-155, no. 243, with Fig., as by Boyvin.

Carroll, 1987, 215, n. 3, under no. 68, as not by Rosso.

Brugerolles and Guillet, 1994, 110, n. 17, Fig., under no. 37.

Béguin, 1994, 192-193, as perhaps by Thiry.

Acton, in French Renaissance, 1994, 299, under no. 71.


Although related graphically to one kind of draughtsmanship used by Rosso in France, the handling of the drawing is not his.  It lacks all the sureness and vigor of line, and the dramatic contrasts of light and shade found in Rosso’s Pandora and Her Box (Fig.D.67a), however much the Costumed Male Figure may suggest that kind of drawing.  The real issue is whether or not the costume drawing is a copy of a lost drawing by him.  It is clearly by the same hand as the Figure in Mask and Costume in Berlin (Fig.RD.1).  Both are related to Boyvin’s Costumed Male Figure Holding Two Torches (Fig.RE.12).  To determine their relation to Rosso, the two drawings and the print must be compared to Pierre Milan’s Three Fates, Costume Designs (Fig.E.104) that is inscribed with Rosso’s name, as Boyvin’s print is not.

In the Three Fates the costumes are largely conceived in terms of triangular and trapezoidal planes that shuttle back and forth across the breadth of the figure and the print.  These planes, trimmed with fur, tassels, and buttons, describe an over-garment, tunic, or armor-like top, and a long skirt.  A very long blouse emerges as puffs and rich folds from openings in the upper tunic.  The designs of the costumes are, in essence, dependent upon the interrelation of smooth and variously shaped planes, and irregular, expanding volumes.  The costumes are not richly ornamented with jewels and embroidery.

The costumes in the Paris and Berlin drawings and in Boyvin’s print are not structured in the manner of those in Milan’s engraving.  Although these other costumes have an upper part that falls over a skirt, or, in the Paris drawing, ruffled bloomers, no clear distinction is made between them.  Furthermore, the applied ornamentation of these costumes is so abundant that in effect it takes precedence over the tailoring of the garments.  This incrustation or overlay displaces the importance of the planarity of the costumes of Rosso’s Three Fates engraved by Milan.

No surviving work by Rosso, either autograph or preserved in a copy or a print, stylistically supports the invention of the Paris drawing, and that of the Berlin drawing and of Boyvin’s print, as Rosso’s.  Rather than assume that in these three images an aspect of Rosso’s style is preserved that appears nowhere else in a work securely known to be his, it is more likely that the drawings and the design of the print are by an imitator, and that this imitator is the actual draughtsman of the two drawings.  The elaboration of Rosso’s style that appears in the Vienna tapestries of the 1540s based on his compositions in the Gallery of Francis I suggests that the drawings and the design of the print may have been done by one of Rosso’s former assistants at the same time, in the decade after his death.  On the basis of the prints designed by Thiry and of the drawings most probably his, he does not seem to be the author of the Paris and Berlin sheets.  At the present time the alternative attribution of the drawings to Boyvin cannot be proved or disproved.  But as Boyvin was a reproductive engraver who worked from drawings made by others, it is not likely that he was the inventor of these costumes.