- Museum number
The Virgin appearing to St Bernard; the Virgin at left flanked by two angels and supported by cherubim, St Bernard seated at a writing desk, an hour-glass and book on a shelf above him, the wing of a devlish monster at far r
Pen and brown ink, with pink and brown wash, heightened with white (partly oxidised), over black chalk, on light brown prepared paper, pricked for transfer. Saint Bernard and the table and desk at which he is seated (except the leg) are on a separate piece of paper
- Production date
- 1485-1524 (circa)
Height: 269 millimetres
Width: 363 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Vasari in his unflattering account of Raffaellino del Garbo in his 'Lives of the Artists' mentions that in the artist's declining years he was reduced to accept 'any work, however mean' for small reward. In this category Vasari mentions that Raffaellino made many beautiful designs for embroidery for the 'churches of Florence and her territory, and also for Cardinals and Bishops in Rome'. The validity of Vasari's account is attested by a large number of small-scale pricked cartoons in pen and wash with wash. The majority of these cannot be related to surviving embroideries as is the case with the present design. An exception to this are four drawings in the Uffizi, Florence which are designs for the Passerini vestments now in the Museo Diocesano, Cortona (two of the designs illustrated in A. Cecchi, 'Filippino and His Circle, Designers for the Decorative Arts', in G.R. Goldner and C.C. Bambach (eds.), exhib. cat., New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 'The Drawings of Filippino Lippi and His Circle', 1997, figs 22-3, p. 41).
The very close pricking of the outlines which characterises cartoons for embroideries was done to create an accurate 'substitute cartoon' for the use of the artisans creating the embroideries, thereby preserving the original designs (for discussion of this see Bambach, 1999, pp. 289-90). As Bambach has observed there are traces of 'spolvero' (spots of black chalk produced by dusting black chalk through the pricked outlines of a drawing) in the robes of the Virgin, the back outlines of the Saint, as well as on his desk. This shows that all or part of the design had already been formulated in a previous drawing, the outlines of which were transferred on to the present drawing and then subsequently reworked with black chalk and pen and brown ink. The drawing was originally shield-shaped, as is shown by the curves drawn in the bottom corners. It may therefore have been the design for the decoration of a panel in the centre of the back of a cope. Raffaellino's composition of the Vision of Saint Bernard (the saint identified by the inscription on his stool) is inspired by Filippino Lippi's treatment in his altarpiece in the church of the Badia, Florence finished by 1486 (illustrated in colour in exhib. cat., 'The Drawings of Filippino Lippi and His Circle', 1997-8, pl. 18, p. 61). A pared down version of the present composition is found in one of the predella panels of the altarpiece dated 1505 in Santo Spirito, Florence (M.G. Carpaneto, 'Raffaellino del Garbo II Parte', "Antichità Viva", X, 1, 1971, fig. 38).
Raffaellino is known as Raffaellino del Garbo after the name of the road near the church of the Badia in Florence where his workshop was situated. Confusingly he sometimes signed his paintings Raffaello dei Carli or Capponi (taking the names of the two families who looked after him after his father's death in 1479), and in one instance on an altarpiece in Siena, Raphael de Florentia. This led Berenson to divide up Garbo's work between three different artists - hence his attribution to Carli for the present drawing - but there is now general consensus that the variously signed works are all by the same hand (see C.C. Bambach, in exhib. cat., New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 'The Drawings of Filippino Lippi and His Circle', 1997, pp. 338-9)
Lit.: B. Berenson, 'The Drawings of the Florentine Painters', Chicago, 1938, II, no. 640, III, fig. 267 (1961 edition, fig. 257); A.E. Popham and P. Pouncey, 'Italian drawings in the BM, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries', London, 1950, I, no. 64 (with previous literature), II, pl. LX; F. Ames-Lewis and J. Wright, in exhib. cat., Nottingham, University Art Gallery and London, Victoria and Albert, 'Drawing in the Italian Renaissance Workshop', 1983, p. 222, illustrated p. 223; C C. Bambach, 'Drawing and Painting in the Italian Renaissance Workshop: Theory and Practice, 1300-1600, Cambridge, 1999, pp. 317, 484, n. 73, fig. 267
Popham & Pouncey 1950
This drawing and 1895,0915.469; 1860,0616.45 and 1923,0417.6 are of the type believed to be designs for embroidery. The only evidence that we have been able to find in support of this view is: (1) the Gothic trefoil border at the top of 1895,0915.469. (2) Vasari's statement (iv, p. 239) that Raffaellino del Garbo made designs for embroidery. (3) The existence of drawings known to be connected with designs by Perino del Vaga for an embroidered cope which show the same finely pricked outlines, and a somewhat similar technique, e.g. Windsor, no. 5460 (cf. Vasari, v, p. 631).
The present drawing was originally shield-shaped, as is shown by the curves drawn in the bottom corners. It may therefore have been the design for the decoration of that shape in the centre of the back of a cope. Its large size would apparently exclude any other position on a vestment. Alternatively, it might have formed part of an altar-frontal.
The composition was certainly influenced by Filippino Lippi's panel in the Badia, painted about 1480.
Literature: BB 640, fig. 267 and pl. LXIII of first ed.; Morelli, Die Galerien zu München und Dresden, 1891, p. 139; B.M. Guide, 1895, no. 27; Van Marle, op. cit., p. 445 ; A. Scharf, op. cit., p. 165, note; H. Ulmann, Repertorium, xvii (1894), p. 115.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1990 April-Aug, BM, Treasures of P&D (no cat.)
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number