- Museum number
Three shepherds and an angel; the shepherds crouched down turned to right.
Charcoal, squared for transfer.
Verso: A kneeling bishop, in profile to right.
Charcoal, squared with leadpoint stylus.
- Production date
- 1496 (circa)
Height: 384 millimetres
Width: 248 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The recto corresponds closely with the shepherds in the altarpiece of the 'Adoration of the Shepherds' in the National Gallery, London, reputedly painted in 1496 for the church of San Francesco in Città di Castello (where the picture is later recorded in the Tiberti Chapel). The group reappears with variations in works from Signorelli's bottega, for example in the Adoration of the Shepherds in the Accademia Etrusca, Cortona, and at the far left of a Massacre of the Innocents in a private collection.
The bishop on the verso has not been connected to any known painting, but in light of the connection to Città di Castello, he could represent the town's patron saint, San Florido.
The medium has hitherto been described as black chalk, but Jenny Bescoby and Judith Rayner's examination of it under the microscope has shown it to be charcoal. The greyish tone caused by the rubbing of the friable surface is also typical of this medium.
Lit.: J.C. Robinson, 'Descriptive Catalogue of Drawings by the Old Masters, forming the Collection of John Malcolm of Poltalloch, Esq.', London, 1876, no. 165; R. van Marle, 'The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting', The Hague, 1937, XVI, pp. 104-5; B. Berenson, 'The Drawings of the Florentine Painters', Chicago, 1938, II, cat. 2509 E-4, p. 333, III, fig. 97; A.E. Popham and P. Pouncey, 'Italian drawings in the BM, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries', London, 1950, I, no. 235, II, pls. CC, CCI (with previous literature); M. Davies, 'National Gallery Catalogues. The Earlier Italian Schools', London, 1961, p. 482; C. Van Cleave, 'Luca Signorelli as a Draughtsman', unpublished D.Phil. diss., Oxford, 1995, cat.18, pp. 138-39; H. Chapman and M. Faietti, exhib. cat., BM, London, 'Fra Angelico to Leonardo: Italian Renaissance Drawings', 2010, no. 62, pp. 230-1 (cat. entry by R. Sassi); C. Van Cleave, "Signorelli Disegnatore" and cat. entry, in 'Luca Signorelli', exh. cat., Perugia, Orvieto and Città di Castello, 2012, p. 325, no. 65.
Popham & Pouncey 1950
The drawing on the recto corresponds closely with part of the National Gallery 'Adoration of the Shepherds' (K. der K. 48), with, however, some slight changes in the relative positions of the figures. This painting may be the one referred to by Vasari as in S. Francesco at Città di Castello, which, according to local records, was executed for the Tiberti family in 1496. There can be no doubt that this is one of Signorelli's working drawings. The study on the verso does not seem to be connected with any existing painting by Signorelli.
Literature: JCR 165; BB 2509 E-4 (Gazette, vii (1932), p. 179, fig. 6); B.M. Guide, 1895, no. 88; Archivio storico dell' arte, iii (1897), p. 355; Van Marle, xvi, pp. 104 f.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1996 BM, Malcolm Drawings, apx.
1998/9 Nov-Jan, London National Gallery, 'Signorelli'
2007 Mar-June, Beijing, Palace Museum, Britain meets the World
2010 April-July, BM, `Fra Angelico to Leonardo`, no.62
2011, March-June, Uffizi, Florence, 'Figure, Memorie, Spazio: Disegni da Fra'Angelico a Leonardo', no.62
2012 Apr-Aug, Perugia, Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria. 'Luca Signorelli'.
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number