- Museum number
Bandinelli album: A head and shoulder; a thigh and two studies of a left arm. Pen and brown ink over leadpoint
Verso: two studies of a head. Pen and brown ink over leadpoint
- Production date
- 1525-1550 (circa)
Height: 281 millimetres
Width: 206 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Watermark: Pascal Lamb in a circle (cf. Briquet, nos 47, 50 / Piccard-online.de, no. 86749)
A group of fourteen anatomical drawings
This sheet is the first of a suite of fourteen of roughly equal size inlaid into separate pages of an album (discussed under 1866,1208.661/2). They contain anatomical studies of homogeneous style and on similarly fine paper, with the same watermark on five sheets, and undoubtedly derive from the same sketchbook and are by a single artist.
Although it would seem reasonable to posit that the fourteen sheets represent all the left and right sides of the formerly folded but undivided sheets of a sketchbook, this is by no means certain. The original sequence is impossible to ascertain and it is easy to conceive of the order being muddled upon the division of the sheets and the rectos and versos interchanged (this could have happened at any point in their history and not necessarily at the hands of the compiler of the present album). That the present drawings were part of a larger sequence is suggested by a sheet in the Louvre (Inv. 848 / Joannides 2003, no. R16) that very probably belonged to this group, and by the fact that only five sheets contain a watermark (the Pascal Lamb) when seven might have been expected.
The fourteen sheets represent an unfolding sequence of anatomical studies of the male body, principally the superficial muscles and the bone structure. The careful delineation in pen and ink, a medium well suited to describing contour and outline, suggest these are fair copies made with the didactic intent of providing a manual of anatomical motifs for use within a studio. The study of the human anatomy became a required practice in the Renaissance workshop, pioneered by Leonardo (see 1866,0609.41) and developed by Michelangelo who equally produced a modelbook of anatomical studies from which some of the present studies derive. Anatomical study was of particular relevance to sculptors who need to represent the human figure in three dimensions - hence the traditional ascription of these sheets to the Florentine sculptor, Baccio Baldinelli (1493-1560), although they are more likely the product of an anonymous hand in Bandinelli`s circle. Monbeig Goguel (2001) promotes the attribution to Salviati of this group of fourteen sheets when a young artist.
The recto contains four details of a flayed body, drawn with the sheet in portrait orientation in pen and ink over initial lines in leadpoint. To the right is a study of an inside right thigh. To the lower left is a study of an upper left arm, distinct from the head above, as is demonstrated by the fall of light from the left and the greater scale. The same arm was studied to greater scale to the far right.
Drawn in landscape orientation with the right edge as the bottom are two studies of the same head tilted back. There are many trial contours in leadpoint, especially along the upper contour of the left-hand head. The skull of the right-hand study is considerably more elongated, perhaps representing a shift in the draughtsman`s point of view, and the left-hand contour of the neck and the swelling muscles within are differently described. In both studies the lips are lacking. Artists often copied models of flayed figures but these usually depicted the figure in a dynamic pose as if alive (two examples in red chalk by Michelangelo are at Windsor, see C. de Tolnay, `Corpus dei disegni di Michelangelo`, 4 vols, Novara, 1975-80, nos 112-3) - here the subject clearly derives from the observation of a cadaver as is indicated by the jagged line of skin, differently described in each study, beneath the chin showing the limit of the flaying. The same head appears on the recto of a sheet in the Uffizi (Inv. 522 F; see R. Cardi and L. Tomasi, exhib. cat., Uffizi, Florence, `Immagini anatomiche e naturalistiche nei disegni degli Uffizi. Secc. XVI e XVII`, 1984, no. 4, p. 73.), equally drawn in pen and ink. The Uffizi sheet is attributed to the circle of Bandinelli (Ciardi and Tomasi 1984) and contains a further three motifs found on another page of the BM`s album (1866,1208.662/3): this repetition of motifs confirms the derivation of all the drawings in the BM album from lost originals.
Given the practical problems of dissection, anatomy classes were a winter activity, and it is possible that casts were made of body parts and the drawings under discussion (or the drawings from which they are copied) derive from these.
Lit: C. Monbeig Goguel, `Francesco Salviati e la Bella Maniera`, in C. Monbeig Goguel, P. Costamagna and M. Hochmann (eds), `Francesco Salviati e la Bella Maniera, Actes des colloques de Rome et de Paris (1998)`, Rome, 2001, pp. 55 and 61;
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1997 Oct-Nov, London, Royal College of Art, 'The Quick and the Dead'
1998 Jan-Mar, Warwick, Mead Gallery, 'The Quick and the Dead'
1998 Mar-May, Leeds, City Art Gallery, 'The Quick and the Dead'
1998 Jun-Sep, Geneva, Musee d'Art et d'Histoire, 'The Quick and the Dead'
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- The title on the album cover demonstrates a Dutch or Flemish provenance.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number