- Museum number
A night assault on a city; soldiers, some on horseback, arriving with weapons, canons and ammunition in the foreground, a fortified city beyond
Pen and brown ink, with brown wash, heightened with white, on two sheets of blue paper overlaid (the correction sheet now lifted)
- Production date
Height: 124 millimetres
Height: 260 millimetres
Width: 180 millimetres (correction sheet)
Width: 423 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This drawing entered the collection as Vasari, following the old inscription written in ink on the recto. The subject of the drawing, the capture of the fortifications of Siena in a night assault by the Florentine forces under the Marquis of Marignano, corresponds to a fresco painted by Vasari in the sala grande in the Palazzo Vecchio in 1570. The finished work does not correspond with the drawing, and the latter must be a rejected idea for the work. Popham attributed the study to Vasari's assistant and collaborator Stradanus, but Barocchi followed by Turner proposed instead that it was a design by Jacopo Zucchi, who, like Stradanus, also worked in Vasari's studio. Popham's attribution is the more likely as the figure types, with their bulbous limbs and sharp pointed features, and the liberal application of white heightening are found in a number of drawing by Stradanus (HC). This attribution was recently endorsed by Härb, who noted the recurrence of certain details in Stradanus' print of the same subject in his illustrated history of the Medici family, the 'Mediceae Familiae Rerum Feliciter Gestarum Victoriae et Triumphi' (see Ii,5.157). In his view, the present sheet was probably made for the suite of tapestries of Sienese history designed by Stradanus in 1569-70 (for which see also 1898,1216.12), before the composition was reused in print.
Lit.: N. Turner, exhib. cat., BM, 'Florentine drawings of the sixteenth century', 1986, no. 153 (as Attributed to Zucchi); F. Härb, ‘The Drawings of Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574)’, Rome, 2015, p. 475.
Turner, Florentine Drawings of the Sixteenth Century, London, 1986
The drawing entered the collection under Vasari's name and was identified as a "sketch for a fresco in the Palazzo della Signoria, Florence". Vasari painted what appears to be the same subject, the capture of the fortifications of Siena by the Marquis of Marignano, in the sale grande of the Palazzo Vecchio and in his 'Ricordanze' (ed. del Vita, p. 104) he writes: "Ricordo come a dj 27 di Giugno 1570 si cominiciò a dipigniere in fresco nella medesima sala la presa di forti di Siena che vera fatto il cartone et che si finj a di 15 dj settembre 1570'. But the present drawing does not correspond with the fresco (repr. Venturi IX6, fig. 202), except insofar as the subject is the same.
Popham, who rightly doubted that the drawing was by Vasari, argued in favour of attributing it to Vasari's assistant and collaborator Stradanus. There is much to recommend this view, but in general Stradanus was a more painstaking draughtsman than the artist responsible for this drawing (see for comparison SL,5214.2) and his compositions are usually articulated by a sequence of clearly differentiated receding planes, quite unlike the organisation of this scene where the army surges as a single mass straight across the middle ground and into the centre of the composition.
On the other hand, the technique and compositional arrangement conform with Zucchi's style, as Barocchi seems to have been the first to suggest. Even if the drawing strikes a somewhat unfamiliar note in Zucchi's oeuvre on account of its unusual medium of wash heightened with white on coloured paper, this may well have been dictated by the subject. The dark paper allowed the artist to capture the effect of the artificial illumination emanating from the lanterns carried by the soldiers (the round objects somewhat resembling balloons), which strikes the armour of the soldiers and the flanks of the horses as the army attacks.
The drawing compares well in style with one by Zucchi, which was recently on the London art market as Stradanus, and is now in the collection of Ralph Holland ('Italian Drawings 1525-1750 from the Collection of Ralph Holland', exh. cat., Hatton Gallery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, May-June 1982, no. 14).
Literature: Barocchi (1964), p. 60 (as Zucchi).
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1986, BM, Florentine Drawings 16thC, no. 153
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number