Rosso Fiorentino, Recumbent Female Nude Figure Asleep, a red, chalk drawing

Probably made in France, AD 1530-40

This is one of the finest surviving examples of Rosso's red chalk drawings. Clearly drawn from a model, a thin outline forms the delicate contour of her full-length body. Inside the line, the white of the paper shows the highlights while superb parallel hatching that has been gently smudged suggests the shadows.

Fiorentino has focused on the figure's elongated upper torso and powerful thighs. He left her head, hands and feet indistinct, perhaps to make separate studies of these more complex details. With stronger hatching he shaded the area around her body, most visibly above her left side. This creates the effect of relief so that the body stands out even more. Rosso's Florentine roots are detectable in the figure's resemblance to Michelangelo's marble statue of Dawn in the New Sacristy in San Lorenzo, Florence.

The pose is also similar to a sleeping nude woman in Fiorentino's fresco of the Fountain of Youth in the Gallery of Francis I (1532-39) at the royal palace at Fontainebleau, just outside Paris. It seems likely that Rosso made the drawing while he was in France, working for the king, between 1530 and the date of his probable suicide in 1540.

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More information


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

E.A. Carroll, Rosso Fiorentino: drawings, pr (National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., 1987-88)

D. Franklin, Rosso in Italy: the Italian ca (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1994)


Height: 126.000 mm
Width: 244.000 mm

Museum number

PD Pp. 5-132


Bequeathed by R. Payne Knight


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