- Museum number
The Pietà; two women mourning the body of the dead Christ
Verso: The swooning Virgin supported by the Maries, a male figure at l
- Production date
Height: 140 millimetres
Width: 154 millimetres
- Curator's comments
Popham was the first to attribute this sheet to Ercole in 1935, noting corresponding details in two of the latter's works: the Pietà in the Walker Art Gallery and the (destroyed) Crucifixion from the Garganelli Chapel, S. Pietro, Bologna. Returning to the drawing with Pouncey in 1950, however, he became more hesitant (see below), suggesting that the forms, not to mention the use of red chalk, were anachronistic for Roberti (who died in 1496), and instead pointed to a date in the early Cinquecento. Molteni has since suggested that the artist might be Tuscan.
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. 8, no. 2 (as Attributed to Ercole de'Roberti); A.E. Popham and P. Pouncey, 'Italian drawings in the BM, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries', London, 1950, I, no. 229, II, pl. CXCVII (with previous literature); M. Molteni, 'Ercole de' Roberti', Milan, 1995, p. 217, no. 87 (as Anonymous Tuscan).
Popham & Pouncey 1950
The drawing on the verso is obviously a fragment of a composition sketch for a 'Crucifixion'.
It can scarcely be questioned that this sheet is Ferrarese. The features of the Virgin and of S. John on the recto seem to owe something to Tura, whilst the diamond-shaped outline of the Madonna and the disposition of Christ's body recall, to a certain extent, Roberti's 'Pietà' at Liverpool. There are affinities with Roberti again in the verso, particularly in the vigorous movement of the soldier. On the other hand, the handling of the red chalk and the idealized facial types of the verso seem to point to a date a decade or so later than Roberti's death. We are unable, however, to name an artist working in the early years of the sixteenth century capable of expressing himself so nobly and so forcefully in the Robertian idiom. The style does not seem to be compatible with that either of Costa or of Marmitta, the most gifted of his pupils.
Literature: A. E. Popham, O.M.D., viii (1933/4), p. 24, fig. 4 (verso); Fenwick Catalogue, 1935, p. 8, no. 2, pl. xi.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1983, Nottingham, London, 'Drawing in the Italian Renaissance Workshop', No. 54
1983 Mar-May, London, V&A, 'Drawing in the Italian Renaissance Workshop'
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number