- Museum number
Christ seated to left and holding a crown.
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, heightened with white, over black chalk, on light grey-blue prepared paper
- Production date
Height: 315 millimetres
Width: 208 millimetres
- Curator's comments
P+P 28-30 have been attributed to a variety of Florentine artists: in the 1814 Ottley sale they were catalogued as Verrocchio; in the 1860 Lawrence-Woodburn sale as Filippo Lippi; and in the Galichon sale catalogue of 1875 as Cosimo Rosselli. The attribution to Francesco Botticini, made by Horne no later than 1896, was rejected in the 1950 BM catalogue in favour of one to his son Raffaello. Berenson's claim that the drawings show Francesco 'in an exceptionally early phase' was refuted by Popham and Pouncey who noted that the style of the BM works point to them being by an artist contemporary with Raffaellino del Garbo (c.1466-1524). The style of the drawings is compatible with Raffaello Botticini's paintings, such as the Uffizi 'Pietà'. Berenson in the final edition of his work on Florentine drawings (1961) accepted that the drawings could not be by Francesco, but he was less confident that they could be assigned with any certainty to Raffaello as his drawing style was so little known. Suida in the 1954 catalogue of the Kress paintings in Denver thought that the BM works were either by Filippino Lippi or Raffaellino del Garbo - attributions which much overestimate the quality of the drawings. A point worth bearing in mind in the identification of the draughtsman is that he may well have been left-handed, as is indicated by the direction of the shading.
All four figures in these drawings correspond in pose to figures in a painting of the Coronation of the Virgin sold at Christies, 10 December 1937, lot 96 (as Fiorenzo di Lorenzo). This work is now in the Kress Collection in the Denver Art Museum (K 1726; Shapley fig. 338) catalogued as Studio of Domenico Ghirlandaio. In the painting the figures of Christ and the Virgin correspond closely to their counterparts in the drawings although with slight changes in detail: for example, the form of the jewelled clasps fastening their cloaks; the addition of band of decoration at the top of both their mantles; and small changes to the drapery folds. The angels in the upper left of the painting differ more markedly from those in the BM sheet, most notably in the position of the right-hand figure's legs. Although there is black chalk underdrawing in all of the drawings, some of it quite loose in passages, the final brush or pen outlines show little sign of revision. The drawings do not appear to be original works, rather copies after an existing model, either a painting or drawing. The Denver painting also probably derives from a similar, or indeed identical, source perhaps a work in some way related to Domenico Ghirlandaio's lost painting of the 'Coronation' in Pisa cathedral (1478-9).
In a further indication that these drawings are copies, it may be noted that the execution is quite different from (and considerably tighter than) the only other drawing associated with Raffaello, now in Stockholm (54/1863), first attributed by Schönbrunner and Meder. See Idem, 'Handzeichnungen alter Meister aus der Albertina und Anderen Sammlungen', Vienna, no. 1000; P. Bjurström, 'Italian Drawings from the Collection of Giorgio Vasari', Stockholm, 2001, no. 1035.
Lit: B. Berenson, 'The Drawings of the Florentine Painters', Chicago, 1938, II, no. 589 (as Francesco Botticini); A.E. Popham and P. Pouncey, 'Italian drawings in the BM, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries', London, 1950, I, no. 28, II, pl. XXV (with previous literature); B. Berenson, 'The Drawings of the Florentine Painters', Milan, 1961, II, no. 589; W.E. Suida, 'Paintings and sculpture of the Samuel H. Kress Collection: Denver Art Museum', Denver, 1954, p. 26; F.R. Shapley, 'Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection, Italian Schools XIII-XV Century', London, 1966, p. 126; F. Zeri, 'Raffaello Botticini', "Gazette des Beaux-Arts", LXXII, 1968, p. 170, n. 8; L. Venturini, 'Francesco Botticini', Florence, 1994, pp. 12 and 19, n. 35
Popham & Pouncey 1950
Ascribed in the Woodburn Sale Catalogue to F. Lippi; in the Galichon Sale Catalogue to Cosimo Rosselli. The attribution to Francesco Botticini, made by Horne not later than 1896, has been generally accepted. Berenson in his 1903 edition (repeated in 1938) claims that these drawings show Francesco 'in an exceptionally early phase'. He arrives at this somewhat surprising conclusion thus. Botticini, he says, was a pupil of Neri di Bicci. The altar-piece of 1475 at Berlin, attributed to Botticini, "shows clearly that Botticini, after leaving Neri di Bicci, must have worked chiefly under Cosimo Rosselli, that later he must have studied Castagno and that just about 1475 he was turning his attention to Verrocchio". In these drawings "no trace of Verrocchio's influence or even of Castagno's" is discernible, but on the other hand "in the angels, Neri di Bicci's types are unmistakable". He concludes: "now as Neri's types occur scarcely ever again in Botticini's works, he must have outgrown them completely after a certain time and these angels and^the companion drawings would therefore belong to the earlier part of this painter's career".
We find ourselves unable to agree that there is any resemblance whatever to Neri's types in these drawings. Far from having the appearance of being early works by Francesco they reveal a manner more evolved than that of the altar-piece at Empoli on which he was working towards the end of his life (up to 1491). Whilst the system of drapery conforms closely with Francesco's, the sentiment and handling point to an artist contemporary with and influenced by Raffaellino del Garbo.
The Uffizi Pietà traditionally and convincingly ascribed to Raffaello Botticini shows a similar indebtedness to his father and a similar effort to modernize the latter's style under the influence, as it would seem, of Raffaellino. It will be noticed, too, that several of the figures in the predella panels of the Uffizi picture have faces very similar to that of Christ in the drawing.
All four figures in these drawings correspond in pose with figures in a Ghirlandaiesque 'Coronation' sold at Christie's, 10 Dec. 1937, lot 96 (as Fiorenzo di Lorenzo).
Literature: BB 589 to 591 (29 and 30 repr. figs. 136 and 137; 28 repr. on pl. XXVII of 1st ed.); J. Mesnil, Rivista d'arte, iv (1906), p. 15; B. Degenhart, O.M.D., v (1930/1), p. 49; E. Kühnel, Francesco Botticini, 1906, p. 36; Van Marle, xiii (1931), pp. 420 ff. (repr. of 29, fig. 287).
- Not on display
- Previous owner
Previous owner/ex-collection: William Young Ottley (T. Philipe, 18.vi.1814/1401 as Verrocchio 'One - the Saviour sitting on a cloud, holding up a crown in his right hand, the sceptre in his left, in the same manner [i.e. 'fine pen and bistre, on grey distemper, pencil heightened - very fine' of previous lot] - ditto')
Previous owner/ex-collection: Sir Thomas Lawrence (L.2445)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Samuel Woodburn (Christie's, 6.vi.1860/part of lot 535 as Filippo Lippi 'Our Lord seated, and preparing to place a crown on the head of the Virgin, who is represented in a separate drawing - bistre, heightened with white, on a prepared ground' , 2 in the lot, bt Farrer with next lot £3.10-0)
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
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