- Museum number
Three horsemen in armour, one on left seen from behind, one at centre with head turned to left
Black chalk, pricked for transfer
- Production date
- 1456-1523 (circa)
Height: 342 millimetres
Width: 271 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This drawing was related by Berenson to two figures in the frescoed Crucifixion in San Crescentino, Morra, and by Popham and Pouncey to background details in the fresco of 'Saint Benedict receiving Totila in the cloister of Monte Oliveto', and in the detached fresco of 'Corolianus persuaded by his family to spare Rome', formerly in the Palazzo Petrucci, Siena, and now in the National Gallery, London (c. 1509, top right). The correspondence with this last work is particularly close, and Popham and Pouncey's association has since been endorsed by Tom Henry, who has shown that the sheet's proportions and dimensions relate exactly to the London fresco. The extant traces of chalk on the fresco, visible in infra-red lighting, suggest that this sheet was not the one used to transfer the design to the plaster, and instead it was likely pricked and pounced to transfer the design to another, lost sheet. The variety of links between this drawn and finished works is perhaps a testament of the extent to which Signorelli recycled and repurposed designs.
Lit: W.Y. Ottley, 'The Italian School of Design...', London, 1823, pp. 16-17; R. van Marle, 'The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting', XVI, p. 105; B. Berenson, 'The Drawings of the Florentine Painters', II, no. 2509 E-1, p. 332; A.E. Popham and P. Pouncey, 'Italian drawings in the BM, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries', London, 1950, I, no. 237 (with previous literature), II, pl. CCIII; M. Davis, 'National Gallery Catalogues, The Earlier Italian Schools', London, 1961, pp. 485-86; C. Van Cleave, 'Luca Signorelli as a Draughtsman', unpublished D.Phil. diss., Oxford, 1995, no. 15, pp. 131-32; Idem., "Signorelli Disegnatore" and cat. entry, in 'Luca Signorelli', exh. cat., Perugia, Orvieto and Città di Castello, 2012, p. 332, no. 82.
Popham & Pouncey 1950
An almost identical group, on the same scale, occurs in the r. background of the fresco in the National Gallery, representing 'Coriolanus with Volumnia and Veturia' (no. 3929), signed: "LVCAS CORITIV(S)". Differences noticeable in the position of the forelegs of the l.-hand horse, of the centre horseman's head, and in details of costume and accoutrement may well be due to the damaged and repainted state of the fresco, which has been transferred to canvas. The centre horse and rider and the l.-hand horse (the latter differing both from the drawing and from the National Gallery fresco) occur, on a slightly larger scale, in the centre background of the fresco of 'S. Benedict receiving Totila' at Monte Oliveto Maggiore (K. der K. 67), datable 1497-1501.
The National Gallery fresco was detached from the wall of a room in the palace of Pandolfo Petrucci at Siena and dates from about 1509 (see 1946,0713.12). In spite of Signorelli's signature, it was for a while ascribed to Genga (e.g. in Berenson, 'Central Italian Painters', 1897 and 1909 editions, and still in the 1929 edition of the National Gallery catalogue). This attribution, which has now been abandoned both by Berenson and the National Gallery, was based on the apparent inferiority of the fresco to the general standard of the artist's work. This was taken to imply the intervention of an assistant, who was identified with Genga for no better reason than that Vasari states that he studied under Signorelli for many years and later worked in the Petrucci Palace.
Literature: BB 2509 E-1; W. Y. Ottley, The Italian School of Design, London, 1823, p. 17, facsimile engraving by J. Vivares (Weigel 8098); Van Marle, xvi, p. 105.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1998/9 Nov-Jan, London NG, Signorelli
2012 Apr-Aug, Perugia, Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria. 'Luca Signorelli'.
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number