- Museum number
Aspertini album (so-called London II):
Folio 31 recto (drawing numbered 61): The courtyard of the Belvedere in the Vatican with figures and putti in the foreground
Folio 31 verso (drawing numbered 62): View of Castel Sant'Angelo with Hercules carrying the Cretan Bull 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. 31recto (no 61)
Another drawing representing the Cortile del Belvedere seen from the Palazzo del Vaticano. Ackerman notes that even if the point of vantage is much the same here as in f. 1862,0712.422v above, the artist has changed the architecture according to his extravagant fancy (see 1954, p. 207, cat. 17c for further details). The exedra staircase is here more accurate and has both convex and concave stairs, differently from that on 1862,0712.422v which indicates only convex stairs, differently from any other artist of the time. It is difficult to say whether Aspertini has totally invented this view or whether he had a source to look at.
See also introduction under 1862,0712.394.
In the foreground there is a figure of Venus and amoretti carrying the arms of Mars. For the two amoretti on the right Bober-Rubinstein refer to those on the left of the Throne of Neptune (1986, no. 52A, p. 90; www.census.de, ID 24905), which has been in the church of San Vitale in Ravenna since the middle ages. Bober (1957, p. 86) notes that Aspertini might have looked at the engraving by Marco Dente of the Throne (see www.census.de, ID 21513), rather than the original in Ravenna. Bober refers also to triangular candelabra bases with Amoretti, an example of which was in the della Valle collection in Rome and would have been known by Aspertini (see www.census.de, ID 15707 ). For the amoretto on the left Faietti draws attention to the verso of a drawing by Marcantonio Raimondi in the Ambrosiana representing one carrying a helm (according to Faietti the helm derives from the Arcus Novus once in front of the church of Santa Maria Lata in Rome, today the via del Corso, which Aspertini had drawn during his first trip to Rome around 1496: see M. Faietti-D. Scaglietti Kelescian, 'Amico Aspertini', Modena 1995, cat. dis. 13, pp. 230-1 and M. Faietti, "Marcantonio sulle tracce di Amico", in 'Festschrift für Konrad Oberhuber', Milano 2000, p. 23 and fig. 3). For further references see Bober 1957, p. 86.
Lit.: P.P. Bober, 'Drawings after the Antique by Amico Aspertini. Sketchbooks in the British Museum', London 1957; P.P. Bober-R. Rubinstein, 'Renaissance Artists and Antique Sculpture', New York 1986
f. 31 verso (no. 62)
In the background, a side view of the Castel Sant'Angelo. At the top right of the sheet one can see a cannon ball being shot in the air, detail much more evident in the following sheet (see also entry for f. 1862,0712.425). The position of the bridge here represented does not correspond to Castel Sant'Angelo's bridge, which should be seen further upstream. The arch is the so-called 'Porta di San Pietro all'Adrianeo' reconstructed under pope Alexander VI around 1495, later modified and never finished (a view of the castle showing this arch can be found in a print by Antonio Salamanca of 1540-45; cf. C. D'Onofrio, 'Castel Sant'Angelo', Roma 1971, fig. 127 and BM 1874,0808.2142). Bober tells us that the figure on the left could be either 'Hercules and the Cretan Bull', or 'Theseus and the Marathon Bull' (1957, pp. 86-7). It is more likely to be Hercules as one can also see the Nemean Lion's skin hanging behind the figure. As noted by Bober, this drawing very accurately transcribes one figure from a frieze of three Campana plaques which depicts the Marriage of Thetis and Peleus with attendant figures of the four seasons (examples can be found in the Louvre, British Museum, Naples and Berlin - for the BM examples with the Seasons, see 1805,0703.328). The whole frieze is published in S. Reinach, 'Repertoire des reliefs grecs et romains', Paris 1909-12, vol. II, 262, 1, where the hero is described as Hercules (see also G.P. Campana, 'Antiche Opere in Plastica', Rome 1842, pls. LX-LXII). Bober continues saying that there is ample documentation for Cinquecento admiration for this series of terracotta reliefs, as it can be seen, for example, in a drawing in Windsor Castle by Sebastiano del Piombo (Popham-Wilde, no. 426v) taken from the draped figure of Thetis; or in drawings by Francisco d'Ollanda of 'Winter' and 'Hercules' deriving from the same plaque (fol. 12v. and 13 of his Escurial album; see www.census.de ID 21617); or in an engraving by Marcantonio Raimondi of 'Winter' (B.XIV.347). An example of the second plaque, if not the entire sequence, was also owned by the painter Sodoma and appears in the inventory of his collection (see Bober, p. 87). Bober mentions an engraving by Giovanni Antonio da Brescia of this subject, suggesting that because it is in reverse, Aspertini might have used other prints as source for his drawing. On the other hand the print is particularly close to Aspertini's style and it could well be that he provided the drawing for the engraving (see BM 1845,0825.700), as it is the case for other prints by Antonio da Brescia (see for example BM 1845,0825718 and 719; 1856,1213.66). As observed by Bober the three men digging in the foreground recall the strong foreshortened poses of the archers in Pietro Pollaiuolo's 'Death of St Sebastian'.
Lit.: P.P. Bober, 'Drawings after the Antique by Amico Aspertini. Sketchbooks in the British Museum', London 1957
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number