- Museum number
Design for an altar with the Gathering of Manna, flanked by St Dominic and St Thomas Aquinas in niches
Pen and brown ink, with grey-brown wash, heightened with white, some pricking in the lower part of the columns, on pale green prepared paper
- Production date
Height: 461 millimetres
Width: 337 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- A finished design for an altarpiece probably, in view of the fact that it is free standing, for a high altar. The subject shows that the altar was dedicated to the Corpus Domini, and the identity of the two flanking saints (Dominic and Thomas Aquinas) indicates that it was intended for a Dominican church. Franklin notes that it is rare, if not unprecedented, to have an altarpiece of an Old Testament subject as they lacked Christ, the Virgin and saints. He has recently suggested that the drawing is for the Confraternity of Corpus Domini in the church of San Domenico in Arezzo. The commission for the high altar of the church was fulfilled by Vasari who painted a 'Deposition from the Cross' in c.1537, which is now in SS. Annunziata in Arezzo. As Turner in the 1986 BM exhibition points out, the technique of the drawing with pen and ink on a coloured ground is a traditional one used by earlier generations of Florentine artists such as Raffaellino del Garbo and Granacci.
Lit: S. Béguin, Revue de L'Art, 1972, 16-17, p. 102; E.A. Carroll, 'The Drawings of Rosso Fiorentino', New York and London, 1976, no. D.32; N. Turner, exhib. cat., BM, 'Florentine drawings of the sixteenth century', 1986, no. 107; E.A. Carroll, exhib. cat., Washington, National Gallery of Art, 'Rosso Fiorentino, 1987, pp. 25 and 162, fig. 5, p. 28; D. Franklin, 'Rosso in Italy', New Haven and London, 1994, pp. 193-5, pl. 152; C. Van Cleave, 'Master Drawings of the Italian Renaissance', London, 2007, p. 172, illustrated p. 173; L.-A. Prat & L. Lhinares, 'La collection Chennevières: quatre siècles de dessins françaises', Paris, 2007, no. C 94, p. 242
(Text from Turner, Florentine Drawings of the Sixteenth Century, London, 1986)
A design for an altar, probably for a Dominican church. In the centre of the main storey is an altarpiece of the 'Gathering of the Manna' flanked by columns, and on either side a niche with a standing saint - on the left 'St Dominic' and on the right 'St Thomas Aquinas'. Above the two saints in the attic level are two small scenes - on the left the 'Last Supper' and on the right the 'Supper at Emmaus'. The iconography of the three pictorial subjects alludes to the Communion.
Carroll dates the drawing on stylistic grounds in Rosso's late Italian period, c.1529, and suggests that it may have been drawn in connection with one of the several commissions the artist is said to have received while he was briefly settled in Arezzo. The exquisite drawing of the 'Gathering of the Manna' compares well in style and conception with such paintings of the late 1520s as the 'Pietà' of 1527-8 in Borgo Sansepolcro and to the 'Christ in Glory' in Città di Castello of 1529-30.
Rosso is rightly considered amongst the avant garde working in Italy in the mid-to-late 1520s and, with Pontormo, was the principal practitioner of the style known as Early Mannerism. Yet it is worth noting that in this project for an altar he has turned to the traditional technique of pen and wash drawn on a tinted, prepared ground. This is the same medium that the retardaire Francesco Granacci had used only some ten or so years earlier in a somewhat similar project for an altarpiece (see 1895,0915.468). The comparison serves to illustrate the point that the innovations of Early Mannerism did not so much affect the technique of drawing, which remained traditional, so much as its conception. For such artists as Rosso, drawing became the vehicle for the expression of a personal vision - in his case, a highly sophisticated one, involving the manipulation of form into a simplified, two-dimensional pattern.
Literature: Carroll (1966), pp. 168ff.; Carroll (1976), no. D. 32.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1986, BM, Florentine Drawings 16thC, no. 107
2014, Mar-Jul, Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, 'Pontormo & Rosso'
- Previous owner
Previous owner/ex-collection: Giorgio Vasari (?)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Everard Jabach (no. 229 in folio 85 of his 1695 inventory)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Gerard Michel Jabach
Previous owner/ex-collection: Antonio Maria Zanetti I
Previous owner/ex-collection: Marquis de Lagoy
Previous owner/ex-collection: Alcide Donnadieu (L.98)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Adolphe Narcisse Thibaudeau (sale Paris, Drouot, 20-25.iv.1857/73 as Rosso)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Philippe, Marquis de Chennevières (L.2072 or 2073; sale, Paris, 4-7.iv.1900/ part of lot 456 as Rosso, 2 in the lot, bt Danlos 125 francs)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Louis Deglatigny (L.1768a suppl. sale, Paris, Drouot, 4-5.11.1937/120 as School of Fontainebleau)
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Inscribed by Zanetti on the backing: "Disegno Stimatis.mo/del/Rosso Fiorenti.no;/era nella Collezione di Giorgio Vasari."
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.
For a full provenance, see Louis-Antoine Prat & Laurence Lhinares, 'La collection Chennevières: quatre siècles de dessins françaises', Louvre 2007, cat.94
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number