Life and training of embroiderers, £8.99
Height: 280.000 mm
Width: 205.000 mm
PD I.7-101 (Zerner, Juste 1; Lieure B1)
Prints and Drawings
Juste de Juste, Human Pyramids, an etching
France, around AD 1545
Six male nudes
The purpose of these fantastic compositions is unclear. They do not form letters of the alphabet, nor are they flayed bodies designed to show muscular anatomy. They cannot represent an even momentary display by living acrobats (just two fingers and a thumb notionally support the upside-down figure in the centre). The composition is a two-dimensional arrangement of figures on a surface, with elbows, heads and hands neatly touching the frame at five points.
The drawing of muscular male nudes was a facility prized in the Florentine tradition. The bodies and heads of these figures are shown from the front and back, or in intermediate positions, with their wiry muscles confidently modelled in chiaroscuro (light and shade). Perhaps the etchings were simply a proud display of Florentine artistic virtuosity.
, The French Renaissance in Prin (Grunewald Centre for the Graphic Arts, University of California, Los Angeles, 1994)