- Museum number
A seated sibyl, study for a painting; leaning forward over her left knee, her head lowered
- Production date
Height: 280 millimetres
Width: 215 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Study for the sibyl in the left foreground of Tibaldi's 'Adoration of the Shepherds' in the Borghese Gallery, Rome. The present drawing is probably the one mentioned by Richardson Junior in his comments on the Borghese painting.
Lit: J. Richardson, 'An Account of Statues etc in Italy', London, 1722, p. 181; J.A. Gere and P. Pouncey, 'Italian drawings in the BM, Artists working in Rome', London, 1983, no. 268
Gere & Pouncey 1983
Richardson's note is correct (see inscription). The drawing is a study, corresponding in all essentials with the figure as executed, for the Sibyl in the l. foreground of Tibaldi's 'Adoration of the Shepherds' in the Borghese Gallery (415; della Pergola cat., i, pl. 124; also repr. Venturi, ix6, fig. 285 and Brigand, fig. 106), signed and dated probably 1549.* The signature must have been obscured in 1720, when the younger Richardson was shown the picture in Rome as a work by Michelangelo.
The figure is obviously inspired by Michelangelo's Sibyls on the Sistine ceiling, but the highly wrought handling of the black chalk and such a detail as the folded back end of drapery above the foot reflect Tibaldi's more immediate contact with Daniele da Volterra, whom he assisted in the Della Rovere Chapel in S. Trinità dei Monti soon after his arrival in Rome in 1547 (compare, for example, Daniele's black chalk study of a Sibyl in the Hermitage: 4702; Dobroklonsky cat., no. 124, pl. xx).
Other drawings connected with this painting are 1963,0420.4; 1962,0714.2-3, and possibly also 1860,0616.20.
The series of ruled lines in pen and ink at the top of the sheet, suggestive of an architrave below which the figure is stooping, has no counterpart in the painting and can hardly have been added by the draughtsman. It is perhaps most satisfactorily explained as the remnant of one of the decorative borders with which Vasari embellished drawings in his own collection: he records that a study by Tibaldi for the 'St Peter' in S. Andrea in Via Flaminia "è nel nostor libro, con altre carte disegnate dal medesimo con molta diligenza" (vii, p. 417), and it would have entirely in character for him to take a liberty of this sort. A similar addition in pen and wash appears behind the head of a black chalk copy of Michelangelo's figure of 'Day', in Munich (41597; P. Halm, etc., 'Hundert Meisterzeichnungen aus der Staatlichen Graphischen Sammlung', 1958 pl. 45; Harprath cat., 1077, no. 46, pl. 71); at the bottom of the sheet is another such addition, so drawn that it appears to be behind the feet of the figure, in the centre of which is a cartouche with the name "DOMENICO GRECO" inscribed in the characteristic small capitals that occur on Vasari's mounts in the Louvre and elsewhere.
Literature: Richardson, Italy, p. 181; Emilian Drawings, no. 114; J.A. Gere, BMQ, xxvi (1962-3), pp. 40f.
* There is some doubt about the date of this picture. Venturi (ix6, p. 520), though listing it under the year 1548, reads the date inscribed on it as "MDXLVIIIJ"; G. Merzario ('I maestri comacini', Milan, 1893, i, p. 588) as "MDXLVIIII"; Della Pergola as "MDXLVIII"; Longhi ('Precisioni nelle Gallerie italiane i: R. Galleria Borghese', Rome, 1928, p. 218) and Briganti both as "1549"; Davidson ('Perino', under no. 68) states categorically that the date is 1549 and not 1548 "come spesso affermato".
The signature now reads: "peregrinus Tibaldi Bonon Faciebat/Anno Etatis sue XXIJ° M D XLVIII", but the last letter of the date is followed by an upright stroke which could be the remains of an "I" or "J" accidentally removed in the course of cleaning. In view of the fact that Merzario and Venturi claim to have seen respectively a fourth "I" and a final "J", we are inclined to accept the date as 1549 rather than 1548.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1964, BM, Michelangelo, no.135
1992 Mar-Jun, Canberra, Austrlian National Gallery, Rubens & Italy, no.60
1992 Jun-Aug, Melbourne, NG of Victoria, Rubens & Italy, no.60
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- The series of ruled lines at the top of the drawing might be the remnants of one of the decorative borders with which Vasari embellished drawings in his collection.
Inscribed on the back of the mount by Jonathan Richardson I.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number