- Museum number
The Pietà with four saints (John the Baptist holding a cross and St Sebastian clutching arrows standing and St Peter with a key to the left and the Magdalen kneeling); the Virgin seated with the body of Christ in her lap
Black chalk, on light buff paper
- Production date
Height: 218 millimetres
Width: 170 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The inscription states that the drawing is a study for Andrea del Sarto's 'Pietà' painted for the nuns of S. Luco, now in the Pitti Gallery. The drawing is in fact, as Patrizia La Porta first pointed out, a study for an altarpiece by Sarto's brother, Francesco d'Agnolo, called Lo Spillo, painted in 1528 at the behest of Michelangelo Baggiani da Quarantola for the chapel of Maria Santissima Addolorata in the Duomo of San Miniato (La Porta, fig. 1, p. 111). La Porta attributes the present drawing to Spillo, but in view of the superior quality of the study in comparison with the finished work it seems more likely that Andrea del Sarto supplied his brother with a preparatory drawing. The style of the drawing is unquestionably close to autograph studies by Sarto, and in view of the fact that Spillo trained in his brother's studio a collaboration between the two artists appears likely.
According to a note in the interleaved Malcolm catalogue, Antal thought that this was a copy by Naldini.
Lit.: J.C. Robinson, 'Descriptive Catalogue of Drawings by the Old Masters, forming the Collection of John Malcolm of Poltalloch, Esq.', London, 1876, no. 109; P. La Porta, '"Sir Spillo" fratello d'Andrea del Sarto: un contributo', "Bolletino d'Arte", LXXV, 62-3, 1990, pp. 111-16
Turner, Florentine Drawings of the Sixteenth Century, London, 1986
Any consideration of 1895,0915.546 must also take into account the closely related composition study in the Uffizi (inv. no. 642E). Although both drawings were doubted by the older critics, i.e. Berenson and Fraenckel, the traditional view, now generally accepted, is that they are alternative studies, both differing substantially from the final result, as well as from each other, for the 'Pietà' painted for the nuns of S. Luco and now in the Pitti Gallery, which was paid for in October 1524. The existence of several pentiments in the British Museum drawing, for example in the left foot of Christ, the right hand of John the Baptist, etc., not to mention the obvious general stylistic resemblance to the work of Andrea del Sarto, proclaim it as an autograph work.
Literature: Lawrence Gallery, 7th Exhibition, no. 99; BB (1903), Text volume, p. 289, n. (as a copy); BB (1938), Text volume, p. 288, n. 3 (as a copy); BB (1961), Text volume, p. 423 (as a copy); Freedberg, Vol. II, pp. 125f.; Shearman, Vol. II, pp. 361f.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1986, BM, Florentine Drawings 16thC, no. 54
1992 Oct-Dec, UEA, 'Florentine Drawings' (no cat.)
1996, BM, Malcolm Drawings, apx.
2019, 06 Sep–15 Dec, USA, San Diego, Timken Museum of Art, Masterpieces of Italian Drawings from The British Museum
2020, 25 Jan–28 Sep, USA, Santa Fe, New Mexico Museum of Art, The birth, death and resurrection of Christ: from Michelangelo to Tiepolo
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number