Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    A female saint standing to right, with hands held out Silverpoint and black chalk, with brown wash, over stylus, on pink prepared paper Verso: A headless draped male figure standing Silverpoint, leadpoint (and some black chalk ?), with grey-brown wash, heightened with white, on ochre prepared paper

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1460-1469 (circa)
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 307 millimetres
    • Width: 166 millimetres
  • Curator's comments

    The attribution to Lippi is due to J.C. Robinson. In the Malcolm catalogue he states that it was given by Richardson to Gaudentio, ie. Gaudenzio Ferrari (1475/80-1546), and in fact Robinson acquired it under this name in the 1860 Lawrence-Woodburn sale. His attribution has been accepted by most authorities (the drawing's critical history is summarised by Ruda p. 499), although Berenson rather perversely thought that the verso was by Lippi's assistant Fra Diamante. The figure on the recto is probably for the Virgin at the foot of the cross in a scene of the 'Crucifixion', although no such painting by the artist is known. The physical type of the figure and the understated, yet intensely moving gesture of her hands recall the mourning women in Lippi's 'Celebration of the Relics of Saint Stephen' in the choir of Prato cathedral finished in 1465, and the drawing also most likely dates from the same decade. Lippi's responsibility for the verso is stoutly defended by Popham and Pouncey, pointing out that the adverse effect is due mainly to the figure having lost his head by the sheet having been trimmed at the top. Ruda also accepts the verso but thinks it dates from thirty years earlier: 'the male figure is relatively static in pose, despite the Gothic sway that billows out from the narrow shoulders to broad hips. It is constructed and posed like most figures in Fra Filippo's paintings from the middle 1430s to the early 1440s' (Ruda p. 331). Although such a gap in years between recto and verso is not inconceivable, Ruda's contention that the two studies differ markedly in handling is not borne out on first-hand examination and those differences that do exist - such as the more subtle use of white heightening on the recto- may perhaps be due to the degree of finish with the female figure being a more finely worked and meditated design in contrast to the more impromptu nature of the verso. Moreover, the style of the drapery, especially the contrast between the broad looping folds in the overgarment and the small wave-like ones in the shift beneath, is found in Lippi's paintings of the 1460s (such as in the Spoleto 'Dormition of the Virgin'; Ruda pl. 172) as well as in earlier work.

    The medium of the drawing has been confirmed by Satoko Tanimoto and Giovanni Verri from the Department of Scientific Research in a campaign of investigation of the Italian 15th century drawings linked to the forthcoming 2010 exhibition. The analytical methods employed have been non-destructive and non-contact ones: infrared and ultraviolet imaging, with XRF and Raman spectrometry.
    HC Lit.: J.C. Robinson, 'Descriptive Catalogue of Drawings by the Old Masters, forming the Collection of John Malcolm of Poltalloch, Esq.', London, 1876, no. 6 (as Ascribed to Fra Filippo Lippi); B. Berenson, 'The Drawings of the Florentine Painters,' Chicago, 1938, recto: I, p. 82, II, no. 1387, p. 157, III. fig. 169, verso: I, p. 53, II, no. 747 (as Fra Diamante), III, fig. 174; M. Pittaluga, 'Filippo Lippi', Florence, 1949, p. 207, fig. 145; A.E. Popham and P. Pouncey, 'Italian drawings in the BM, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries', London, 1950, I, no. 150 (with previous literature), II, pls CXXXVIII, CXXXIX; G. Dalli Regoli, 'Un disegno giovanile di Filippo Lippi', "Critica d'Arte", VII, 1960, no. 39, pp. 200-202, figs 25 and 27 (as Lippi circle); B. Degenhart and A. Schmitt, 'Corpus der italienischen Zeichnungen, 1300-1450, Süd-und Mittelitalien', Berlin, 1968, I-2, no. 360, I-4, pl. 303a-b; E. Croft-Murray, in exhib. cat., BM, 'The Art of Drawing', 1972, no. 111; G. Marchini, 'Filippo Lippi', Milan, 1975, cat. M, figs. 187-8; F. Ames-Lewis, 'Drawing in Early Renaissance Italy', New Haven and London, 1981, pp. 38, 42, pl. II; J.K. Cadogan, 'Reconsidering Some Aspects of Ghirlandaio's Drawings', "Art Bulletin", LXV, 2, 1983, p. 283, n. 46; J. Rowlands (ed.), in exhib. cat., BM, 'Master Drawings and Watercolours in the British Museum', 1984, no. 5; J. Ruda, 'Fra Filippo Lippi', London, 1993, recto: p. 331, cat. D8, pp. 498-99, pls. 188, 393, verso: p. 331, cat. D2, pp. 494, 498-9, pls. 189, 392; H. Chapman, in exhib. cat., BM, 'Old Master Drawings from the Malcolm Collection', 1996, no. 3; G.R. Goldner and C.C. Bambach, in exhib. cat., New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 'The Drawings of Filippino Lippi and his Circle,' 1997, no. 2 (with further literature); C. Van Cleave, 'Master Drawings of the Italian Renaissance', London, 2007, p. 44, illustrated p. 45; H. Chapman and M. Faietti, exhib. cat., BM, London, `Fra Angelico to Leonardo: Italian Renaissance Drawings`, 2010, no. 11, pp. 112-3 (cat. entry by M. M. Rook).

    Popham & Pouncey 1950
    Robinson appears to have been the first to recognize in this sheet, which had been attributed by Richardson to Gaudenzio Ferrari, the work of Filippo Lippi. Through some curious aberration it was dismissed as a fake by Morelli. Berenson makes a distinction between the two sides. The recto he assigns to Filippo, the verso to his pupil, Fra Diamante. Few will dispute the first of these opinions, for, as Berenson observes, this female saint, described by him as the Virgin in a 'Crucifixion', ranks as one of the finest conceptions of the artist's later years. It is difficult, however, to accept Berenson's adverse judgement on the verso. This figure is necessarily less interesting than the other: not merely is the man headless but his stolid pose has no dramatic quality. However, the feeling for form and the technique, in particular the way in which the white heightening is applied, are so similar in the two drawings that there seems to be no justification for making a distinction in authorship.
    Scharf has suggested that the figure on the recto is a study for one of the women in Filippo's predella panel representing a 'Miracle of S. Zeno' beneath Pesellino's altarpiece of the 'Trinity' in the National Gallery. This is not likely, since the woman in the painting is not a saint.

    Literature: JCR 6; BB 1387, fig. 169 and pl. xxxv of first ed. (recto); BB 747, fig. 174 (verso); Catalogue descriptif des dessins exposés à l'École des Beaux-Arts, 1879, no. 13; G. Morelli, Kunstchronik, N.F., iii (1891/2), col. 443; B.M. Guide, 1895, no. 16; A. M. H(ind), Vasari Society, Second Series, v (1924), 2; Van Marle, x (1928), p. 459, fig. 278 (recto); A. Scharf, Pantheon, xiv (1934), p. 215.


  • Bibliography

    • Popham & Pouncey 1950 150 bibliographic details
    • Sell et al 2015 37 bibliographic details
    • JCR 6 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (Italian Roy XVc)

  • Exhibition history

    1972, BM, 'The Art of Drawing', no.111 1981 Jan-Apr, V&A, 'Drawing: Technique & Purpose', no. 4 1984, BM, 'Master Drawings and Watercolours in the British Museum', no. 5 1996, BM, 'Old Master Drawings from the Malcolm Collection', no. 3 1997/8 Oct-Jan, Metropolitan MA, NY, 'Filippino Lippi' 2010 April-July, BM, 'Fra Angelico to Leonardo', no. 11 2011, March-June, Uffizi, Florence, 'Figure, Memorie, Spazio: Disegni da Fra'Angelico a Leonardo', no.11 2015 May-Jul, Washington, National Gallery of Art, 'Drawing in Silver and Gold'
    2015 10 Sep-6 Dec, London, British Museum, 'Drawing in Silver and Gold'

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number


A female saint standing to r, with hands held out Metalpoint and black chalk, with brown wash, on pink prepared paper Verso: A headless draped male figure standing Metalpoint, with grey-brown wash, heightened with white, on ochre prepared paper

A female saint standing to r, with hands held out Metalpoint and black chalk, with brown wash, on pink prepared paper Verso: A headless draped male figure standing Metalpoint, with grey-brown wash, heightened with white, on ochre prepared paper

Image description



If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: 

View open data for this object with SPARQL endpoint

Object reference number: PDO6649

British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.

View this object

Support the Museum:
donate online

The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.

About the database

The British Museum collection database is a work in progress. New records, updates and images are added every week.

More about the database 


Work on this database is supported by a range of sponsors, donors and volunteers.

More about supporters and how you
can help