- Museum number
A bust of a warrior in profile to left, wearing a winged helmet and armour bearing a lion on the breastplate
Silverpoint on cream prepared paper
- Production date
Height: 287 millimetres
Width: 211 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Watermark: three mounts
The medium of the drawing has been confirmed by Satoko Tanimoto and Giovanni Verri from the Department of Scientific Research in a campaign of investigation of the Italian 15th-century drawings linked to the forthcoming 2010 exhibition. The analytical methods employed have been non-destructive and non-contact ones: infrared and ultraviolet imaging, with XRF and Raman spectrometry.
Lit..: J.C. Robinson, 'Descriptive Catalogue of Drawings by the Old Masters, forming the Collection of John Malcolm of Poltalloch, Esq.', London, 1876, no. 38; A.E. Popham, 'The Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci', London, 1946 (and later editions), no. 129; A.E. Popham and P. Pouncey, 'Italian drawings in the BM, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries', London, 1950, I, no. 96, II, pl. LXXXVIII (with previous literature); A.E. Popham, in exhib. cat., London, Royal Academy, 'Leonardo da Vinci quincentenary exhibition', 1952, no. 9; J. Roberts, in exhib. cat., London, Hayward Gallery, 'Leonardo da Vinci', 1989, no. 2; exhib. cat., Florence, Uffizi, 'Il Disegno Fiorentino del tempo di Lorenzo il Magnifico', 1992, no. 12.5; A. Wright, in exhib. cat., London, National Gallery, 'Renaissance Florence: the Art of the 1470s', 1999, no. 63; C. Van Cleave, 'Master Drawings of the Italian Renaissance', London, 2007, p. 86, illustrated p. 95
Popham & Pouncey 1950
The doubts expressed by Morelli, Frizzoni, Beckerath and Venturi (who refers to it as "opera di meschino imitatore") about Leonardo's authorship of this drawing can be dismissed. It is left-handed and entirely consistent with Leonardo's early, Verrochiesque style. Seidlitz is quite wrong in declaring the drawing to be "somewhat reworked".
The connection with Verrocchio's lost relief of Darius, first, we believe, observed by Sir Eric Maclagan in 1921, is discussed by Planiscig (loc. cit.). Briefly, his argument is this: Vasari (iii, p. 361) makes the following statement about Verrocchio: "Fece anco due teste di metallo; una d'Alessandro Magno, in profilo; l'altra d'un Dario a suo capriccio; pur di mezzo rilievo, e ciascuna da per sè, variando l'un dall' altro ne' cimieri, nell' armadure ed in ogni cosa: le quali amendue furono mandate dal magnifico Lorenzo vecchio de' Medici al re Mattia Corvino in Ungheria, con molte altre cose. . . ". Now there exists a pair of profile busts of warriors in relief, the one a youth facing to the r., the other an older man turned to the 1. The youth, in marble, in the Strauss Collection, New York, appears to be an original work by Verrocchio; the other, a terracotta, in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum, Berlin, is obviously a copy. Planiscig identifies the pair as Vasari's 'Alexander' and 'Darius' and assumes that Vasari (who never went to Hungary) was misinformed about the material. The British Museum drawing corresponds, though there are considerable variations in detail, with the Berlin terracotta and Planiscig regards it as a simplified copy by Verrocchio's pupil, Leonardo, of his master's relief, now lost; a perfectly natural explanation. That Leonardo was the author of this relief and that the drawing is his original study for it is made improbable by the character of the drawing itself, for it has none of the tentative character of a sculptor's sketch.
Emil Möller (loc cit.) regards the present drawing as Leonardo's original design for a hypothetical relief of Hannibal which was to have been the pendant of the marble relief of Scipio in the Louvre (Catalogue 1922, no.668), a work which he attributes to Leonardo himself.
Literature : JCR 38; BB 1035 (fig. 537 and pl. CXIV of first ed.); Bodmer 112; Popham 129; Lawrence Gallery, Fifth Exhibition, no. 59; Chennevières, Les dessins exposés à l'École des Beaux-Arts en 1879, Paris, 1880, p. 14 (repr.);W. Bode, Prussian Jahrbuch, iii (1882), p. 102; Morelli, Die Galerien Borghese . . . , Leipzig, 1890, p. 250; B.M. Guide, 1895, no. 36; E. McCurdy, Vasari Society, First Series, i (1905/6), 3; Thiis, p. 214; Müller-Walde, p. 68, fig. 32; Seidlitz, i, pp. 76 f., pl. XVIII.; E. Maclagan, Burlington, xxxix (1921), pp. 132 ff.; Clark, Windsor, under no. 12590; Clark, p. 7, pl. 7; L. Planiscig, Vienna Jahrbuch, N.F. vii (1933), p. 95 (repr.); Emil Möller, Raccolta vinciana, xiv (1930-4), pp. 3 ff., fig. 9; Venturi, Storia, x. 1, p. 36, note 1, fig. 36 (reversed); Nicodemi, pl. 65; W. R. Valentiner, Art Quarterly, iv (1941), p. 4; Giglioli, p. 93, pl. XLIV; Poggi, pl. 44; H. Chapman and M. Faietti, exhib. cat., BM, London, `Fra Angelico to Leonardo: Italian Renaissance Drawings`, 2010, no. 50, pp.204-5 (cat. entry by H. Chapman).
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1879 May-Jun, Paris, École des Beaux-Arts, 'Des Dessins de Maîtres Anciens', no. 42
1868, Leeds, 'National exhibition of works of art', no. 2505
1894, BM, no.36
1952, London, RA, no.9
1965, BM, Masterpieces of the Print Room, (no cat.)
1972, BM, The Art of Drawing, no.119
1984, BM, Master Drawings and Watercolours in the British Museum, no.10
1989, London, Hayward Gallery, no.2
1992 April-July, Florence, Uffizi Gallery, Lorenzo il Magnifico, no.12(5)
1996, BM, Old Master Drawings from the Malcolm Collection, no.9
1999/2000 Oct-Jan, London, National Gallery, 'Renaissance Florence: The Art of the 1470s'
2000-1 Dec-Feb, BM Great Court, Human Image
2006/7 Sep-Jan, London, V&A, 'Leonardo da Vinci: Experience, Experiment and Design'
2010 April-July, BM, 'Fra Angelico to Leonardo', no.50
2011, March-June, Uffizi, Florence, 'Figure, Memorie, Spazio: Disegni da Fra'Angelico a Leonardo', no.50
2015 May-Jul, Washington, National Gallery of Art, 'Drawing in Silver and Gold'
2015 10 Sep-6 Dec, London, British Museum, 'Drawing in Silver and Gold'
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- According to the Lawrence Gallery catalogue this had belonged to W.Y.Ottley; thence to Lawrence, Robinson and Malcolm.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number