- Museum number
The Entombment; figures supporting the body of Christ behind, two figures in the foreground, one at right looking to front, crosses on the hill behind
Pen and brown ink, with light brown wash
- Production date
- 1445-1505 (?)
Height: 130 millimetres
Width: 74 millimetres
- Curator's comments
Philip Pouncey attributed this and the other two drawings on the mount to Marmitta (for details of the circumstances of this discovery see Turner). He recognised that the 'Entombment' is a study for Marmitta's miniature (c. 204v; Bacchi and De Marchi, pl. CXXIX) in the Durazzo Book of Hours executed in c. 1500 and now in the Biblioteca Civica Berio, Genoa, Bacchi and De Marchi, no. 2, pp. 308-11, pls XCIII-CXXII. The patron of the Hours is unknown, however the volume is the one held by the unknown Parmese (?) sitter in Parmigianino's painting of c. 1524 in the National Gallery, London (NG 6441). The drawing differs from the finished miniature in small details such as the landscape background and the position of the head of the Virgin Mary .
Lit.: A.E. Popham and P. Pouncey, 'Italian drawings in the BM, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries', London, 1950, I, no. 171, II, pl. CLVIII (with previous literature); J. Stock and D. Scrase, in exhib. cat., Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, 'The Achievements of a connoisseur: Philip Pouncey, Italian Old Master Drawings', 1985, no. 34; N. Turner, in exhib. cat., BM, 'The Study of Italian Drawings: The Contribution of Philip Pouncey', 1994, no. 23; A. Bacchi and De Marchi, 'Francesco Marmitta', Turin, 1995, no. 6, p. 315, pl. CXLVI
Popham & Pouncey 1950
This drawing, as an inscription on the back shows, has in the past been attributed to Raphael. In the Woodburn Sale Catalogue it was ascribed, together with 1860,0616.69 and 1860,0616.70, to F. Monsignori. Under this artist's name, in its corrected form, Bonsignori, all three drawings have hitherto remained. This drawing is, however, an original study for the miniature of the 'Entombment' in the Durazzo Book of Hours, in the Palazzo Bianco at Genoa; the illuminations in this book are, as Toesca ('L'Arte', xii (1909), p. 464) was the first to point out, by the same hand as a series of miniatures in a manuscript of Petrarch in the Landesbibliothek at Cassel (MS. Poet. 4°. 6), on f. 10 of which some verses name "Marmita" as the illuminator. There must be an interval of some years between the two works; in the Petrarch, types and drapery are modelled closely on Roberti's system, while in the other, though the same faces recur, the drapery has lost this Robertian quality, there is less effort to reveal the underlying limbs, and the folds are less metallic and angular. The style of the Petrarch approximates to that employed by Costa in the mid-eighties, e.g. in the predella in the National Gallery at Washington which originally formed part of the S. Maria delle Rondine altar-piece, belonging to the Kaiser Friedrich Museum. It may be supposed, therefore, that even if Marmitta was as precocious in his development as Costa he could scarcely have executed the illuminations in the Petrarch earlier than 1485. It is more probable that he followed Costa's lead at a short interval and that this manuscript dates from the nineties. To allow time for the diminution of Roberti's influence discernible in the Durazzo 'Hours' it would be reasonable to advance the date of the latter and of the present drawing to the end of the century. Indeed, a still later dating is indicated by the affinities between this drawing and 1860,0616.69 and 1860,0616.70, which would appear to date from towards 1505.
The disposition of the figures in the drawing and in the miniature is almost identical, but their proportions are more elongated in the drawing, which is itself higher in relation to its width. In the miniature the group formed by Christ and the two Marys, instead of being on the same level as the outside figures, is placed only very slightly higher than the figures in the foreground; and the heads of these latter only come up to the level of the chins of the background mourners. Apart from these differences of placing and proportion the only alteration of importance consists in the pose of the Madonna, who, in the miniature, stands behind Christ in such a way that most of her body is concealed and she is seen full-face. Two figures have been inserted in the middle distance in the miniature.
In spite of the difference of medium, miniature and drawing resemble each other so closely in the choice of types and in the handling of chiaroscuro that it is evident that both were executed by the same hand. In this connection the treatment of the play of light on the face of the young woman supporting Christ should be compared in the two versions.
Literature: P. Pouncey, Proporzioni, iii (1950).
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1985 Oct-Dec, Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, 'The Achievement of a Connoisseur', no.34
1994, BM, 'The Study of Italian Drawings', no.23
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number