- Museum number
Aspertini album (so-called London II):
Folio 16 recto (drawing numbered 31): Woman holding a child leaning against an urn and an elephant, before an architectural backdrop
Folio 16 verso (drawing numbered 32): Two doorways being entered by people, and a group of nudes on blocks in the foreground
Recto and verso: black chalk with brown wash
- Production date
Height: 219 millimetres
Width: 159 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- For comment on the album to which this sheet belongs, see 1862,0712.394
f. 16 recto (no. 31)
The position of the woman leaning against an urn in the foreground can be compared with a drawing by Aspertini in Braunschweig (Faietti-Scaglietti 1995, cat. dis. 93, pp. 307-8) and with a painting in Bologna of a 'Madonna and Child with Saint Joseph' (Faietti-Scaglietti cit., cat. dip. 46, pp. 191-3). The subject of the Madonna and Child is often studied in London II as it can also be seen in ff. 1862,0712.396, 413v, 414 and 429v. The elongated position derives from antique statues of river gods, studies of which one can find in London I (ff. 1898,1123.3.15 left and 1898,1123.3.17 left) and London II (1862,0712.413v, 414 and 416v).
The way Aspertini places figures in and out of doorways of both recto and verso, and on the recto of the following sheet (1862,0712.410), is reminiscent of another drawing by Aspertini representing a street scene, also in the British Museum (2001,0127.6) and the two portals bring to mind a series of panels found in Bologna (cf. R. Martorelli in 'Amico Aspertini. Artista bizzarro nell'età di Dürer e Raffaello', exhibition catalogue Bologna 2008-09, pp. 236-7). Other drawings in this album that show an interest in this type of imaginative architecture and remind the panels in Bologna are: 1862,0712.403, 410, 415v, 423v, 429, 430, 431. The portals are also reminiscent of the aedicule in the Pantheon, recorded also on f. 52r of the so-called codex Coner by Bernardo della Volpaia in the Soane Museum in London (www.census.de, ID 205969), as is the case on f. 1862,0712.435r. See also the verso of the present drawing and 1862,0712.410.
The elephant was maybe inspired by 'Annone', the pachiderm given by the King of Portugal in 1514 to pope Leo X as a coronation present. Images of it were certainly circulating, like the woodcut by Philomates or the lost painting by Raphael.
Lit.: P.P. Bober, 'Drawings after the Antique by Amico Aspertini. Sketchbooks in the British Museum', London, 1957, p. 81; M. Faietti - D. Scaglietti, 'Amico Aspertini', Modena 1995, p. 307, under cat. dis. 93, fig. 52, p. 69)
f. 16 verso (no. 32)
For the two portals in the background see entry on recto. The figures in the foreground don't seem to have a specific source, but like the ones on the recto of the following sheet (1862,0712.410), it is likely they are inspired by classical prototypes, especially the lying/dying male. The latter is reaching out towards the right and his decurted fingers can be seen on the following sheet. The two drawings were therefore once part of the same composition, as it can also be seen by looking at the buildings on the back.
Lit.: P.P. Bober, 'Drawings after the Antique by Amico Aspertini. Sketchbooks in the British Museum', London, 1957, p. 81
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number