Jacopo Pontormo, Two Monks Standing, a chalk drawing

Florence, Italy, around 1524-25

Study for the Supper at Emmaus

This drawing is a study for a painting of the Supper at Emmaus (Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence). This was painted in 1525 for the refectory or dining hall at the Certosa (charterhouse) in Galluzzo, south of Florence. In the Life of Pontormo, the artist-biographer Giorgio Vasari records that Pontormo (1494-1556) drew several of the monks from life.

This fascinating study is one of Pontormo's most famous drawings from life. In front, an older monk looks out directly to the artist. His large robes almost overwhelm his body as he gestures with both his hands. The younger monk behind is startled and turns his head, with big wide eyes, to his right. Both Vasari's Life and the artist's own diary show Pontormo to have been eccentric, secretive and neurotic.

Red chalk has been used to record these two vivid figures. The head of the older monk is particularly striking. The thin lines of his forehead and hair contrast with the smoother and broader shadows of his robes. The folds of the monk's robes are shown in dark tones, applied strongly in the areas of deepest shadow. The younger monk is drawn more rapidly and lightly, his frightened expression is captured with an immediacy characteristic of Pontormo.

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More information

Bibliography

N. Turner, Florentine drawings of the six, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1986)

J. Rowlands, Master drawings and watercolou (London, The British Museum Press, 1984)

Dimensions

Height: 281.000 mm
Width: 195.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1936-10-10-10

PDO8634

Location

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