- Museum number
The Crucifixion; a group of mourners kneeling at the foot of the cross and a figure standing at either side
Pen and brown ink, over traces of leadpoint, on orange-pink prepared paper
- Production date
- 1460 (circa ?)
Height: 132 millimetres
Width: 123 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This was sold in the Rogers and Ottley sales as the work of 'Marceselli', following the inscription, a reference to the Pisan painter Giovanni Stefano Marucelli (1586-1646). In the Bateson sale it was given to Gozzoli, and was first published as Lippi by Berenson in 1932 when it was in the Oppenheimer collection. He likened it to the small drawing appended to a letter by Lippi dated July 1457 (Archivio di Stato, Florence; Ruda D4), and the BM study probably dates from the same decade. No painting by Lippi of this composition is known, although there is a reference to a lost painting in the Ginori chapel, San Lorenzo of a Crucifixion with Saints Jerome, Francis and the Magdalen by the artist. The drawing does include the three saints: St Francis kneeling on the left, the Magdalen embracing the cross and the penitent Jerome, his torso bare, on the right. Ruda identifies the standing figure on the left (initially sketched in black chalk closer to the cross) as John the Evangelist while others think he is John the Baptist - as he is not bearded the former is perhaps more likely. The figure on the other side of the composition is sometimes thought to be a woman or the youthful John the Evangelist. Degenhart (1968) suggested that the drawing was a model for a 'niello' in the Bargello, Florence. Ruda thought that the comparison was not sufficiently close to warrant this connection, although he did not exclude the possibility that the 'niello' might be inspired by a lost Lippi painting for which the BM drawing was a study.
Lit.: B. Berenson, 'Three Drawings by Fra Filippo Lippi', "Old Master Drawings", VII, September 1932, p. 16, pl. 1; B. Berenson, 'The Drawings of the Florentine Painters', Chicago, 1938, II, 1387A, p. 157, III, fig. 167; R. Oertel, 'Fra Filippo Lippi', Vienna, 1942, p. 58, fig. 5; M. Pittaluga, 'Filippo Lippi', Florence, 1949, pp. 206-7, fig. 144; A.E. Popham and P. Pouncey, 'Italian drawings in the BM, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries', London, 1950, I, no. 149, II, pl. CXL; L. Grassi, 'I disegni italiani del Trecento e Quattrocento: scuole fiorentina, senese, marchigiana, umbra', Venice, n.d [1960?], no. 31; B. Degenhart and A. Schmitt, 'Corpus der italienischen Zeichnungen, 1300-1450, Süd-und Mittelitalien', Berlin, 1968, I-2, no. 355, pp. 453-6, I-4, pl. 301; B. Degenhart, 'Ein Niello-Entwurf des Fra Filippo Lippi' in 'Festschrift Ulrich Middeldorf', Berlin, 1968, pp. 155-57; J. Ruda, 'Fra Filippo Lippi', London, 1993, D3, pp. 494-5, pls 185 and 386; G.R. Goldner, in exhib. cat., New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 'The Drawings of Filippino Lippi and His Circle', 1997, no. 1, pp. 89-90 (with further literature)
Popham & Pouncey 1950
The position of Christ's r. arm has been raised and there are traces of a standing figure to the r. of the Baptist. Identifiable figures of saints are: the Magdalen embracing Christ's feet; the Baptist on the extreme 1., pointing towards Christ, and S. Francis kneeling next to him; the swooning Virgin; S.Jerome in penitence on the r. and S.John the Evangelist standing behind him.
In the Rogers Sale catalogued as by "Gio. Steph. Marceselli", a misreading of a fantastic attribution to Giovanni Stefano Marucelli (1586-1646) inscribed on the back of the mount, where it is stated that the drawing is a study for a fresco at Pisa, "sopra la porta del Parlatorio delle Convertite esposa al Publico". In the Bateson Sale it was ascribed to Benozzo Gozzoli. Berenson was the first to recognize it as the work of Filippo Lippi. He noted its resemblance to the best authenticated of Filippo's sketches: a study for a triptych appended to a letter in the artist's hand and signed by him, dated 20 July 1457 (BB 1385, fig. 166, pl. XXXIII of first ed.). It may also be compared with one of the finest of Filippo's surviving drawings, a pen and ink study for the 1. half of the fresco at Prato representing the 'Obsequies of S. Stephen'. The figures in this as yet unpublished drawing are more than twice the height of those in the 'Crucifixion', but notwithstanding the difference in scale there is much in the handling to confirm Berenson's attribution. He associated our drawing with the two lunettes in the National Gallery, the Alessandri triptych in the Metropolitan Museum ('Bollettino d'arte', xxvi (1932/3), p. 6), and the 'Nativity' from the convent of Annalena, now in the Uffizi (Van Marle, x, fig. 246). But his view of Lippi's development led him to date the drawing, with these pictures, in the first half of the forties. It is now generally agreed that this group of works cannot be far separated in time from the triptych adumbrated in the letter of 1457, two panels from which survive in the Cook Collection (Oertel, figs. 99 and 100).
It may well be, as Berenson suggests, that the painting for which our sketch was made was to be circular in shape. Two 'tondi' by Filippo may be dated in the fifties: the 'Madonna and Child' in the Pitti (Van Marle, x, fig. 259) and the 'Adoration of the Magi' formerly in the Cook Collection (Van Marle, x, fig. 244). If the picture was a 'tondo', then it cannot have been the altar-piece in S. Lorenzo with which it is tentatively identified by Oertel on the basis of a statement in Richa ('Notizie istoriche delle chiese fiorentine', v (1757), p. 27) that a picture representing 'Christ Crucified with S.Jerome' by Lippi had formerly been situated over one of the Ginori family's altars, in that church.
Literature: BB 1387A, fig. 167; B. Berenson, O.M.D., vii (1932/3), pp. 16 ff, pl. 21; A. E. Popham, B.M.Q., xi (1936/7), pp. 127 f., pl. XXXVI; R. Oertel, op. cit., p. 58, fig. 5.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1997/8 Oct-Jan, New York, Met.Mus.Art, Filippino Lippi
2003/4 Dec-Apr, BM, NACF exhibition
2007 Mar-Apr, BM Easter Passion exhibition
2019, 13 Sep–13 Dec, USA, University of San Diego, University Galleries, Christ: Life, Death and Resurrection, Italian Renaissance Drawings & Prints 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
- Acquisition notes
- Inscription on back of mount refers to this being in the collections of C. Richardson (probably a misreading of the Rogers mark), Hodges and Wadmore (perhaps James Wadmore, 1782-1853).
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number