- Museum number
The Foundation of Orbetello; a group of figures at l, some on horseback, a horse and rider being led by a soldier at centre, two oxen at r
Pen and brown ink, with brown wash
Verso: Studies for a soprapporta with two female figures on a pediment
Pen and brown ink, with brown wash, over red and black chalk, with lines indented
- Production date
Height: 270 millimetres
Width: 424 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Watermark: a blacksmith with anvil.
The fresco of the 'Founding of Orbetello' is illustrated in colour Acidini Luchinat, I, p. 249, fig. 49; the overdoor fresco in the Sala Regia in the Vatican studied on the verso is illustrated on p. 151. The ex-Peter Claas drawing after the Sala Regia overdoor mentioned by Gere and Pouncey is now in the collection of the University of Michigan (1966/ 1.93; as no. 32 in Mundy's exhibition). The Scholz drawing related to the recto composition is now in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York (1973.27; no. 34 in the 1989 exhibition).
Lit: J.A. Gere and P. Pouncey, 'Italian drawings in the BM, Artists working in Rome', London, 1983, no. 334; J. Mundy, in exhib. cat., Milwaukee, Milwaukee Art Museum and New York, National Academy of Design, 'Renaissance into Baroque: Italian Master Drawings by the Zuccari 1550-1600', 1989, under nos. 31-2 and 34; C. Acidini Luchinat, 'Taddeo e Federico Zuccari, fratelli pittori del cinquecento', Milan, 1998, I, pp. 250 and 263, n. 159 (recto) and p. 151, fig. 35 (verso)
Gere & Pouncey 1983
The recto is the earliest-known sketch for the fresco between the doors in the wall opposite the windows in the Sala dei Fasti Farnesiani in the Palazzo Farnese in Rome (Voss, fig. 173; Venturi, ix6, fig. 113; Gere, pl. 167). The subject was mistakenly identified by Voss as "the Entry of Charles V", but it in fact represents the foundation of the city of Orbetello by Pietro Farnese in A.D. 1100. The peninsula of Orbetello can be seen in the l. background of the fresco, and in another study for the composition in the Scholz Collection, New York (Gere 149, pl. 161), the sacrificial altar on the extreme l. is inscribed "COL(ONIA) VRBETELI". In the painting the composition is in reverse to 1947,0412.154, and is elaborated by the addition of groups of onlookers on either side of the extreme foreground, so that the principal group advances from the r.-hand side in the middle plane of the composition.
The drawing in the Scholz Collection is in the same direction as the fresco, but the foreground figures have still not been added. In general disposition the main group comes close to the fresco, for it has been enlarged by the addition of two figures on foot leading the procession and a group of horsemen behind. A later stage in the design is known from a drawing formerly in the Berlin Printroom (to judge from a photograph, a product of Taddeo Zuccaro's studio) which corresponds closely with the fresco except for the two figures in the extreme r. foreground. A separate study for the group of figures in the l. foreground is also in the Scholz Collection (Gere 150, pl. 164). The decoration had been begun by Francesco Salviati, but he finished only two of the walls. The commission to complete it was given to Taddeo Zuccaro after Salviati's death. This took place on 11 November 1563 (see Vasari, vii, p. 97) which is thus the 'terminus post quem' for Taddeo's activity in the room.
The verso drawing is a study for the 'soprapporta' on the end wall of the Sala Regia in the Vatican, above the entrance to the Cappella Paolina (Voss, fig. 172; Venturi, ix5, fig. 517; Gere, pl. 159), for which Taddeo received an interim payment on 22 December 1564 (Bertolotti, 'Urbinati', p. 18). This very rough sketch can be elucidated with the help of carefully finished drawings, corresponding with it in all essentials, in the Fogg Museum, Harvard (Mongan-Sachs, fig. 116) and in Turin (16037; Bertini, no. 449, repr.). A third was lot 57 in Sotheby's sale of 25 March 1965 (repr. 'Drawings of Five Centuries ... presented by Peter Claas at the Alpine Gallery', London, June, 1965, pl.x.).
In the Mongan and Sachs Catalogue the Fogg Museum drawing is attributed to Taddeo Zuccaro himself, but it must be a product of the studio, perhaps by the assistant responsible for the similar drawing of the 'Donation of Charlemagne' (Taddeo's other painting in the Sala Regia) at Windsor (6849; Popham-Wilde, no. 1070, fig. 202) which is likewise a fair copy in pen and wash of a rejected intermediate solution. In the Fogg drawing the two figures are sitting directly on the pediment and are posed symmetrically in almost identical attitudes, the main difference being the placing of the r. and l. arms of the l.- and r.-hand figures respectively. The tablet in the centre is supported by putti, and on either side of it, behind the two seated figures, is an elaborate arrangement of weapons, shields, armour, etc., grouped round trophies to which the figures of naked captives are bound. In the fresco the composition has been simplified: the figures are no longer sitting directly on the pediment (no doubt it was realised that the projection of the latter, which forms part of the door-frame, would obscure them unless they were placed higher up); the figures are larger in scale and are pushed further apart by the enlargement of the tablet between them; their poses are less formal and their draperies fuller and more elaborate; and while there are still trophies in the background these are much reduced in importance and are reduced to a flat, almost two-dimensional, pattern, while the putti and captives have disappeared altogether.
Literature: Gere 108
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- This item has an uncertain or incomplete provenance for the years 1933-45. The British Museum welcomes information and assistance in the investigation and clarification of the provenance of all works during that era.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number