- Museum number
A mythological composition with Pan and the Fates; a group of men, some playing pipes, adorned with vine leaves, a group of three women behind at l
Pen and brown ink, with brown wash, heightened with white (partly oxidised)
- Production date
- 1456-1523 (circa)
Height: 291 millimetres
Width: 373 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The composition corresponds with the description given by Della Valle (Lettere Senesi, Rome, 1786, iii, p.320) of a fresco in the palace of Pandolfo Petrucci at Siena, which is said to survive in situ in the Palazzo del Magnifico at Siena under a coat of whitewash. Three frescoes from the series, two by Signorelli and one by Pintoricchio, are in the National Gallery. The paintings may date from 1509 (this date is found on one of the tiles now in the V.& A. from the floor) when Borghese Petrucci married Vittoria Piccolomini.
Lit.: A.E. Popham, 'Catalogue of Drawings in the Collection formed by Sir Thomas Phillipps, Bart., F.R.S., now in the possession of his Grandson, T. Fitzroy Phillipps Fenwick of Thirlestaine House, Cheltenham', London, 1935, p. 9, no. 4; B. Berenson, 'The Drawings of the Florentine Painters', Chicago, 1938, II, no. 2509 K-3, p. 336, III, fig. 121; A.E. Popham and P. Pouncey, 'Italian drawings in the BM, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries', London, 1950, I, no. 236 (with previous literature), II, pl. CCVIIII; M. Davies, 'National Gallery Catalogues. The Earlier Italian Schools', London, 1961, p. 474; A. Petrioli Tofani, 'Per Girolamo Genga' "Paragone", 1969, 229, pp. 18-36 (as copy by Genga); G. Agosti, 'Precisioni su un 'Baccanale' perduto del Signorelli', "Prospettiva", 1982, 30, p. 70, fig. 1; F. Ames-Lewis and J. Wright, in exhib. cat., Nottingham, University Art Gallery and London, Victoria and Albert Museum, 'Drawing in the Italian Renaissance Workshop', 1983, p, 202; C. Van Cleave, 'Luca Signorelli as a Draughtsman', unpublished D.Phil. diss., Oxford, 1995, no. B9, p. 202.
Popham & Pouncey 1950
The composition corresponds, as Berenson recognized, with the description given by Della Valle ('Lettere sanesi', Rome, 1786, iii, p. 320) of a fresco in the palace of Pandolfo Petrucci at Siena. Della Valle's description reads as follows: "La seconda storia rappresenta un baccanale di molti giovani, e vecchj alquanto minori del naturale con varj scorcj curiosi; nel mezzo vi è Pan con lituo coronato di edera; due pastori sembrano contrastarsi il primato col suono della zampogna, mentre altri stanno attenti, come giudici della contesa. Un giovine tiene in mano un viglietto, in cui si legge" Luca da Cortona, "di sopra si vedono in disparte le Parche. Il nudo, e il disegno va crescendo in perfezione; e qui si vede apertamente che vi studiarono il Sodoma, il Pacchiarotto, Baldassarre, e gli altri artefici di grido".
It will be observed that the presence of the three Fates differentiates the composition described from that of the picture at Berlin (K. der K. 59: now destroyed), so similar in many respects.
Berenson finds in the types of some of the heads, notably in those of the three Fates and of the youth between the two flautists on the r., a Sienese quality which makes him believe the drawing to be the work of a 'nearly contemporary' Sienese copyist. But its technique of fine parallel brush-strokes is so similar to that of some of Signorelli's authentic studies- the nude man carrying another on his back, in the Louvre (BB 2509 H-2), for example- that it seems almost certain that the author was working in Signorelli's studio. To us it seems possible that the drawing may originally have been by the master himself.
The fresco with which the present drawing apparently corresponds is said to survive in situ in the Palazzo del Magnifico at Siena under a coat of whitewash. It was one of eight frescoes decorating a room in the palace. Three of them, detached from the wall, are in the National Gallery (no. 911 by Pintoricchio, nos. 910 and 3929 by Signorelli), and two others are in the Siena Gallery (nos. 333 and 334 attributed to Genga). The decoration of this room is to form the subject of a study by Martin Davies, who has kindly allowed us to extract from his manuscript the conclusions he has reached as to the date when the work was carried out. This was fairly certainly in or about 1509, for the following reasons: (i) The arms of Piccolomini and Petrucci are found impaled or quartered, or on adjoining escutcheons, in parts of the decoration. Pandolfo's son, Borghese Petrucci, married Vittoria Piccolomini on 22 Sept. 1509, and it is unlikely that the Piccolomini arms would have been used by Petrucci before that date, (ii) The date 1509 occurs on one of the tiles (now in the Victoria and Albert Museum) which, there is every reason to suppose, formed the flooring of the room, (iii) The only years after 1500 in which Signorelli is known to have been in Siena are 1506 and 1509.
Literature: BB 2509 K-3, fig. 121 (Gazette, x (1933). p. 290, fig. 9); Fenwick Catalogue, p. 9. no. 4, pl. xiv; for a relating maiolica plate, see D.Thornton and T.Wilson, 'Italian Renaissance Ceramics: A Catalogue of the British Museum collection,' vol.I, London, 2009, p. 179, cat. no. 114.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1998/9 Nov-Jan, London NG, Signorelli
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number