- Museum number
Six women in drapery, turned to right. c.1400
Pen and brown ink
Verso: The lower part of a seated, draped figure
Pen and brown ink
- Production date
- 1400 (circa)
Height: 149 millimetres
Width: 170 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This was attributed by Ottley to Giotto, and was acquired as such in Woodburn's 1860 sale. The general consensus is that it is the work of a late Gothic Florentine artist. Grassi thought it was by one of the Orcagna/di Cione family, possibly Jacopo (1320/30- before 1400), but he does not explain his grounds for doing so. Berenson's suggestion that it is by Spinello Aretino (?1346-1410) was rejected by Popham and Pouncey as it does not resemble sufficiently closely the only drawing by him: the 'Pope Alexander III declaring Thomas Becket a saint' in the Morgan Library, New York (Degenhart and Schmitt, I-1, no. 165, I-3, pl. 195a). More plausible is Degenhart and Schmitt's suggestion that it belongs to the circle of the goldsmith and sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378/81-1455). This places the drawing slightly later which seems more likely as the sketchiness of the pen is most closely paralleled in Lorenzo Monaco's Uffizi study (11 E) of c. 1407-9 for the left wing of the 'Coronation of the Virgin' altarpiece now in the National Gallery in London. The shallow curving folds of the drapery and the page boy haircuts held together by a band are features found in Ghiberti's sculpted figures on the north doors of the Baptistery (1400-24).
As Jeremy Wood notes, this is a rare example of an early Italian drawing from Lanier's collection.
Lit: B. Berenson, 'Drawings of the Florentine Painters', Chicago, 1938, II, no. 2756 A (as Spinello Aretino); A.E. Popham and P. Pouncey, 'Italian drawings in the BM, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries', London, 1950, I, no. 271 (with previous literature), II, pl. CCXXXIV; L. Grassi, 'Il disegno italiano dal Trecento al Seicento', Rome, 1956, p. 60; L. Grassi, 'I disegni italiani del Trecento e Quattrocento: scuole fiorentina, senese, marchigiana, umbra', Venice, n.d [1960?], no. 4, p. 127 (as member of the Orcagna family, ? Jacopo di Cione); B. Degenhart and A. Schmitt, 'Corpus der italienischen Zeichnungen, 1300-1450, Süd-und Mittelitalien', Berlin, 1968, I-2, no. 193, I-4, pl. 215a-b (as circle of Ghiberti); J. Wood, 'Nicholas Lanier (1588-1666) and the origins of drawing collecting in Stuart England' in C. Baker, C. Elam and G. Warwick (eds), 'Collecting Prints & Drawings in Europe c. 1500-1750', Aldershot, 2003, p. 111, fig. 7.29
Popham & Pouncey 1950
This drawing was attributed by Ottley to Giotto and was still catalogued under his name at the Woodburn Sale. Berenson, who detects affinities with such purely Trecento artists as Nardo di Cione and Altichiero, assigns it to Spinello Aretino and notes that the sketch on the verso has "almost Parri Spinelli's touch".
There can be no doubt that Berenson is correct in thus placing it at the end of the Gothic movement in Florence and he is perhaps right in thinking that the types are close to Spinello's; but it is difficult to see a sufficient degree of resemblance to the only drawing with a strong claim to be considered this artist's work: a drawing in the Pierpont Morgan Library (BB 2756D and fig. 2) evidently done in connection with the fresco-cycle painted by Spinello in the Palazzo Pubblico, Siena, in 1408-10.
Sirén's attribution to Lorenzo Monaco, made verbally, is perhaps more persuasive; but when our drawing is compared with the only authenticated drawing by him, the study in the Uffizi (BB 1391A, Van Marle, ix, fig. 112) for the National Gallery altar-piece, the proportions in our drawing are seen to be less elongated, the forms more rounded, and the faces different in structure (they do not, as in the Uffizi drawing, slope back from chin to forehead). It therefore seems safer for the present to leave this sketch with the anonymous Florentine drawings.
Literature: BB 2756A, fig. 6 (recto); W. Y. Ottley, The Italian School of Design, 1823, p. 8 (facsimile engraving by G. Lewis, Weigel 2827); Vasari Society, First Series, iii (1907/8), 1; Van Marle, ix (1927), p. 255, note 1; Meder, Die Handzeichnung, 1919, pp. 440 f.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2010 April-Aug, Moray Arts Centre, Nameless: Anonymous Drawings of 15th & 16th Century Italy
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number