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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    St John the Baptist brought before King Herod; the king seated at far l, St John at centre surrounded by soldiers Pen and brown ink, on vellum

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1425-1450
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 182 millimetres
    • Width: 248 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Popham & Pouncey 1950
        Inscribed at the bottom in a hand of the seventeenth or eighteenth century: "Bernardus de Senis MCCXXXV".
  • Curator's comments

    This was attributed to Botticelli when exhibited in the Saville Gallery in 1930. Degenhart published it as a copy by a follower of Pisanello after one of the lost frescoes executed by Gentile da Fabriano and Pisanello in San Giovanni Laterano, for which the latter received payment in 1431/2. This connection has been followed by all later scholars. Fossi-Todorow (1959 but published in 1962) and Degenhart and Schmitt (1960) independently noted that it belongs to a group of around fifty studies on vellum- the so-called 'taccuino di viaggi' - which come from a dismembered sketch or drawings book made by Pisanello and his studio of copies after Antique and modern works encountered on their travels. These drawings often bear, as is the case here, an attribution written in a seventeenth-century hand. The majority of the travel sketchbook studies are generally considered not to be by Pisanello, although Degenhart and Schmitt have ever since their 1960 article firmly held on to to the idea that most of the drawings (including the present one) are by Pisanello (for a summary of the album's critical history see D. Cordellier, in exhib. cat., Louvre, Paris, 'Pisanello', 1996, pp. 465-7). The present work is certainly too weak to be by him, and it is notably more feeble than the other Pisanello studio copy from the Lateran cycle: the 'Baptism of Christ' in the Louvre (RF 420; no. 88 in the 1996 Louvre catalogue). Lit.: B. Degenhart, 'Pisanello', Turin, 1945, p. 29, fig. 45a; A.E. Popham and P. Pouncey, 'Italian drawings in the BM, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries', London, 1950, I, no. 301, II, pl. CCLXVIII; R. Brenzoni, 'Pisanello', Florence, 1952, p. 124, pl. IV; L. Coletti, 'Pisanello', Milan, 1953, p. 32; J. Bean, 'Bayonne, Musée Bonnat: les dessins italiens de la collection Bonnat', Paris, 1960, under no. 223 (with a list of other ex-Lagoy drawings perhaps from the same album); M. Fossi Todorow, 'Un taccuino di viaggi del Pisanello e della sua bottega, in 'Scritti di Storia dell'arte in onore di Mario Salmi' (F.M. Aliberti ed.), Rome, 1962, II, p. 136, n. 3, p. 146; B. Degenhart and A. Schmitt, 'Gentile da Fabriano in Rom und die Anfänge des Antikenstudiums', "Münchner Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst", XI, 1960, pp. 59, 69, figs. 1, 24; M. Baxandall, 'Bartholomaeus Facius on Painting', "Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institute", 1964, 27, p. 101; M. Fossi Todorow, 'I Disegni del Pisanello', Florence, 1966, no. 179 (with previous literature); B. Degenhart and A. Schmitt, 'Corpus der italienischen Zeichnungen, 1300-1450, Süd-und Mittelitalien', Berlin, 1968, I-2, p. 642; K. Christiansen, 'Gentile da Fabriano', London, 1982, pp. 112-113

    Popham & Pouncey 1950
    It was attributed to Botticelli, when exhibited in the Savile Gallery. Degenhart (loc. cit.) suggests that it might be a Pisanello studio copy from one of the lost frescoes of the life of S. John the Baptist in S. Giovanni in Laterano, for which Pisanello received payments in 1431/2. The character of the drawing does in fact point to its being a copy, but the draughtsman seems to stand closer to Stefano da Verona than to Pisanello.

    Literature: Drawings by Old Masters, Savile Gallery Ltd., 1930, no. 2; B. Degenhart, Pisanello, Turin, 1945, p. 29, fig. 45a.


  • Bibliography

    • Popham & Pouncey 1950 301 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (Italian Roy Vellum XVc)

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    This item has an uncertain or incomplete provenance for the years 1933-45. The British Museum welcomes information and assistance in the investigation and clarification of the provenance of all works during that era.

  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number


St John the Baptist brought before King Herod; the king seated at far l, St John at centre surrounded by soldiers Pen and brown ink, on parchment

St John the Baptist brought before King Herod; the king seated at far l, St John at centre surrounded by soldiers Pen and brown ink, on parchment

Image description



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