- Museum number
Aspertini sketch-book (so-called London I): 18th opening
left (1898,1123.3(18) verso) and right-hand page (1898,1123.3(19) recto) with relief of Bacchus and Ariadne (upper left), Hercules with Hydra; Hercules and the Erymanthean Boar (mistakenly represented as a sack); Hercules with the Nemean Lion (upper right); six Muses with the seated Minerva (lower part of the opening) c. 1535
Black chalk, brown wash, only parts of the right-hand page with pen and brown ink, on vellum
- Production date
Height: 248 millimetres
Width: 184 millimetres (each page)
- Curator's comments
- Bober suggests that the six figures on the upper tier of the left-hand page derive from a unidentified sarcophagus representing Bacchus and Ariadne (Bober 1957, p. 62) and that the ones on the right-hand represent, from left to right, Hercules and Hydra, Hercules and the Erymanthean Boar and Hercules with the Nemean Lion after a sarcophagus now in the Vatican (Belvedere; C. Robert, Die antiken Sarkophagreliefs, Berlin 1890-, III, no. 129; www.census.de, ID 16615). She believes this to be the only sarcophagus which reveals the same poses in almost the same sequence. The heavy restoration of the piece would explain Aspertini's reproduction of the boar as a heavy sack, as well as the reduced form of the hydra. Aspertini had recorded the same sarcophagus on f. 41v of the Wolfegg Codex. When mentioning the sarcophagus under the entry of another one in the Vatican, Bober-Rubinstein (P.P. Bober-R. Rubinstein, 'Renaissance Artists and Antique Sculpture', New York, 1986, under no. 135, p. 171) refer it back only to Aspertini in the Wolfegg Codex (without specifying the exact sheet), but not to the present drawing. Also Faietti (Faietti-Scaglietti 1995, p. 40) thinks that Hercules and the Erymanthian boar derives from a sarcophagus now in the Vatican Museums (but she doesn't specify which one), from which she believes should also derive the figure of the man coming out of the wood with a bundle of sticks on his shoulders, in the background of Aspertini's fresco of San Frediano changing the course of the river Serchio in the chapel of Sant'Agostino in the church of San Frediano in Lucca. According to Scaglietti (Faietti-Scaglietti 1995, p. 153, n. 15) Aspertini is here repeating the same subject drawn on f. 41v. of the Wolfegg Codex, but she believes the sources for Hercules labours are infact not identifiable, whereas Schweikhart identifies the sources for each single labour, stating therefore that the images do not derive from a single sarcophagus (1986, p. 95). Aspertini's interest in Hercules is represented throughout his career, as it can be seen in this and more of his drawings: Faietti-Scaglietti 1995, cat. dis. 26; Wolfegg Codex, f. 41v; Faietti-Scaglietti 1995, catt. dis. 75-76; London I, 1898,1123.3.19, 1898,1123.3.21, left-hand page of 1898,1123.3.43, 1898,1123.3.48 [Bober 18v-19, 20v-21, 43v, 48v]; London II, 1862,0712.410v and 1862,0712.416v (ff. 17v and f. 23v); Faietti-Scaglietti 1995 cat. dis. 102). Aspertini painted a cycle of Hercules Labours in the castle of count Francesco Isolani in Minerbio near Bologna (Faietti-Scaglietti 1995, pp. 73-4 and 83 and cat. dip. 49, pp. 196-203). The Muses on the lower tier are, according to Bober (1957, pp. 62-3), from an unidentified model, but must refer to that class of Muses sarcophagus that represents Thalia wearing a spotted skin leotard. See also Wolfegg Codex, ff. 26v (Polyhymnia, Thalia and Melpomene with other two Muses behind them) and 35v (Thalia embracing Melpomene). For further observations see also Schweikhart 1986, pp. 68-9 and 87.
The left-hand page is interesting in showing the black chalk underdrawing that probably underlies most of the drawings in the sketch-book.
Lit.: P.P. Bober, 'Drawings after the Antique by Amico Aspertini. Sketchbooks in the British Museum', London, 1957, f.17v-18, pp. 62-3; G. Cosmo, 'Aspertini e la scultura antica', in "Antologia di Belle Arti", XXI-XXII, 1984, pp. 38, n 41; G. Schweikhart, 'Der Wolfegg Codex. Zeichnungen nach der Antike von Amico Aspertini', London, 1986, pp. 52, 68-9, 87, 95; M. Faietti-D. Scaglietti Kelescian, 'Amico Aspertini', Modena, 1995, pp. 73-4, 83, 198 and under catt. dis. 75, 102.
For images of the codex Wolfegg see www.census.de id 60826.
N.B. web address links for images extend to the right margin of screen and will need to be copied and pasted.
For a general introduction to the sketchbook see 1898,1123.3.1
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number