- Museum number
Studies for a figure of the Baptist; including a nude figure leaning on a staff at centre
Pen and brown ink
Verso: Two studies of a torso
- Production date
- 1535-40 (circa)
Height: 206 millimetres
Width: 288 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The drawing was formerly kept under the name of Sansovino, Polidoro's authorship was first recognised by A.E. Popham. As Gere and Pouncey noted the way in which the figure is massed together with a tree stump suggests that this is a design for a free-standing sculpture. Zecca suggested that Polidoro's treatment inspired Marco Cardisco's painting of the saint in the triptych formerly in the Santuario di Santa Maria a Parete, Liveri di Nola (Naples). In turn he notes that the pose of the figure in Polidoro's drawing is close to that of Cesare da Sesto's painting of 'San Roch' now in the Museo del Castello Sforzesco, Milan. As this was executed in Milan it is likely that the artist painted a similar work, now lost, during his period in the south of Italy.
Both the pen studies on the recto and the red chalk study of a torso on the verso are generally regarded as dating from the end of the artist's career. Leone de Castris suggests that the red study of the Dead Christ may be related to a painting for an Deposition or Entombment' now known only through drawings (such as 26467 and 26462 in Berlin, his numbers D 37 and 42, figs. 482 and 479), or for the 'Pietà' in the devotional altarpiece now in the Palazzo Abatellis, Palermo (op. cit., illustrated as pl. 97 on p. 434). Polidoro's designs for the temporary decorations for the triumphal entry of Charles V into Messina in October 1535 after his victory in Tunis included chiaroscuro paintings of the life of Christ and Leone de Castris tentatively links the drawing to this commission.
Lit: P. Pouncey and J.A. Gere, 'Italian drawings in the BM, Raphael and his circle', London, 1962, I, no. 216, II, pls 186-7; A. Marabottini, 'Polidoro da Caravaggio', Rome, 1969, I, nos. 164, 165, II, pl. CXIV, 4 CXIV, 3; L. Ravelli, 'Polidoro Caldara da Caravaggio', Bergamo, 1978, nos. 238, 239; P. Leone de Castris, exhib. cat., Naples, Capodimonte, 'Polidoro da Caravaggio', 1988-9, no. XII b.18, p. 190; P. Leone de Castris, 'Polidoro da Caravaggio, l'opera completa', Naples, 2001, no. D. 120, p. 477, figs 483-4; A. Zezza, 'Documenti per la 'Cona magna' di Sant'Agostino alla Zecca', "Prospettiva", 75-6, July - October 1994, pp 145 and 152, n. 43, fig. 18; P. Leone de Castris, 'Polidoro da Caravaggio, l'opera completa', Naples, 2001, no. D. 120, p. 477, figs 483-4 (with previous literature)
Pouncey & Gere 1962
The drawing was formerly kept under the attribution to Sansovino [see inscription]; Polidoro's authorship was first recognized by Popham.
The way in which the very plastically conceived figure is massed together with the tree-stump in a single block on a low base,* suggests that these may have been designs for a free-standing statue. There is no evidence that Polidoro designed sculpture, though some of his sketches of temporary structures for the entry of Charles V into Messina in 1535 ('Prussian Jahrbuch', xli (1920), repr. pp. 351 f.) include sculptured figures.
1856,0712.5 is close in handling to the two sketch-book leaves 1918,0615.2 and 1936,1010.3 and, like them, may date from Polidoro's Messinese period. A Polidoro composition of the Baptist preaching is known from a (studio?) copy in the Albertina (S.R. 454; Braun 70306).
The attitude of the figure in the two verso studies is that of a dead Christ in an 'Entombment' or 'Lamentation'. Indeed, apart from the position of the l. arm, it is almost exactly that of the principal figure in 1944,0708.16.
* Another drawing by Polidoro (Louvre 6073), of S. Roch addressing the Plague-stricken, shows the figure of the Saint standing on what seems to be a circular base, though the drawing is clearly a study for a painting. In the more fully realized companion drawing for the same composition (Louvre 6072) the scene appears to be taking place indoors, and the 'base' can be interpreted as a step.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1962/3 Nov-Sep, BM, Raphael and his Circle (P+G)
1988/9 Nov-Feb, 'Polidoro', Capodimonte, Naples, no. XIIb.18
2022 2 Feb - 15 May London, BM, G90a, 'Raphael and his Circle'
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number