- Museum number
Three nude studies of Aeneas and his attendant; one at right seen from behind
- Production date
Height: 141 millimetres
Width: 201 millimetres (irregularly cut)
- Curator's comments
- Studies for the painting entitled 'Mercury urging Aeneas to leave Dido'. Another sheet with three sketches of Aeneas and his attendant, also from the Ferruccio Asta Collection, is in the Rijksmuseum (sa.268).
Lit: J.A. Gere and P. Pouncey, 'Italian drawings in the BM, Artists working in Rome', London, 1983, no. 92
Gere & Pouncey 1983
The studies on this sheet and on 1956,1013.13 are for the group of Aeneas and the child attendant assisting him to disrobe, in a composition known in its complete form from a painting discovered by Voss in a Swedish private collection (repr. 'Kunstchronik', N.F. xxxiv (1922-3), p. 376 and Barolsky, 'Daniele', 1979, pl. 73), and identified by him with one described by Vasari (vii, pp. 61f.) as having been commissioned from Daniele by Monsignor Giovanni della Casa (see 1956,1013.14). While the composition of the painting corresponds with Vasari's description and is undoubtedly due to Daniele, it seems to us that Voss made unduly light of the fact that the painting in Sweden is on panel whereas Vasari explicitly states that the one commissioned by Della Casa was on canvas.
Daniele was assisted by Michelangelo, two related sketches by whom are known: one of Aeneas and his attendant, now in the Seilern Collection (Tolnay, 'Michelangelo', v, fig. 193; BM Michelangelo Exh., 1975, no. 166, repr.) and one of the same group with the reclining figure of Dido in the background, in the Teyler Museum, Haarlem (A.32; Tolnay, op.cit., fig. 192).
Vasari says that Della Casa commissioned altogether four paintings from Daniele, one of which was the double-sided 'David and Goliath' for which Michelangelo likewise provided drawings (see 1956,1013.14). The date of these commissions is not recorded, but such evidence as there is suggests that they were executed in the course of the eighteen months preceding Della Casa's death on 14 November 1556. As a papal diplomatist he spent most of his career outside Rome, and during the greater part of the pontificate of Julius III, with whom he was out of favour, he had withdrawn to Venice. He did not return to Rome until 22 June 1555, after the election of Paul IV (Levie, 'Daniele', p. 130). The style of the Michelangelo sketches connected with three of the commissions (the third being the 'Baptist in the Wilderness', for which there are studies in the Ashmolean Museum and the Casa Buonarroti; Tolnay, op. cit., figs. 186-9) is homogeneous and points to a date after rather than before the period of Della Casa's retirement to Venice; while (for what this indication is worth) Vasari discusses the commissions immediately after the della Rovere Chapel in SS. Trinità dei Monti (completed after 19 January 1553: see 1946,0713.114) and immediately before his account of Daniele's activity during the pontificate of Paul IV (1555-9).
Another sheet with three sketches by Daniele for the group of Aeneas and his attendant, also from the Ferruccio Asta Collection, is in the Rijksmuseum (59.268), and a large-scale carefully finished study in black chalk for the same group is in the Albertina (497: S.R.590, as Francesco Salviati). The latter's condition makes it hard to judge, but it seems to be a damaged original. Another, somewhat less highly finished and with a separate study for Aeneas's arm and shoulder, is in the Musée Fabre at Montpellier (870-1-182). What seems to be an authentic and perfectly preserved study for the reclining figure of Dido, also in black chalk and in the same characteristic technique exactly resembling that of the Uffizi study for 'David and Goliath' (see 1956,1013.14), was reproduced by T. Borenius and R. Wittkower in the privately printed catalogue of Sir Robert Mond's collection of drawings (no. 213, pl. xxxvi); they noted the connection with the 'Aeneas and Dido' composition, but dismissed the drawing itself as a copy.
A close variant of the composition (the principal difference being that Aeneas is not looking upwards towards Mercury) can be seen in the centre of the vault of the vestibule of a house engraved by P. Letarouilly ('Les Edifices de Rome moderne', Paris, 1840-57, pl. 326; pl. 216 in the Tiranti reprint of 1944). The house, described as being in the Via d'Aracoeli "au pied du Capitole" and thus presumably one of those demolished in the course of recent urban improvements, is said by Letarouilly to have been inhabited by Michelangelo. This is clearly no more than a picturesque legend: what remains of the Via d'Aracoeli runs North-West from the direction of the Capitol towards the Piazza del Gesù, whereas Michelangelo lived on the other side of the Capitol "vicino la piazza di sto apostolo canto la chiesa di loreto" (direction of letter to him from Condivi, dated probably 1555: see J. A. Symonds, 'The Life of Michelangelo Buonarroti', London, 1893, ii, p. 406).
Literature: Barolsky, Daniele, 1979, p. 99.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2003/4 Sep-Jan, Florence, Casa Buonarroti, Daniele da Volterra amico di Michelangelo
2010/11 Oct-Jan, Vienna, Albertina, Michelangelo-the drawings of a Genius
2013 Feb-May, Montpellier, Musée Fabre, L'atelier de l'oeuvre
- 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.
Gere & Pouncey 1983
Please see 1956,1013.20 for further provenance
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number