Lot 9
  • 9

Pietro Buonaccorsi, called Perino del Vaga

40,000 - 60,000 GBP
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  • Pietro Buonaccorsi, called Perino del Vaga
  • Recto: sheet of studies including a pietà and several figures; verso: a nude man, almost in profile, standing beside a lion and holding a sword, with two separate studies of a right leg
  • Pen and brown ink (recto and verso) and brown wash (recto)


J.A. Boussac (L.729b); 
Jeanne Lanvin Collection, Paris; 
by descent to her daughter, Countess Jean de Polignac


Unframed. Though the visual impression given by the drawing remains strong and powerful, the paper is in a very fragile condition. Losses around all edges, particularly lower left corner. Paper skimmed around all four edges, probably from earlier mounting. Various minor losses and cracks, due to action of the ink throughout (the fragile areas locally reinforced on the verso with thin japan paper). Somewhat abraded towards the bottom. Water stain right edge, towards centre. Some discolouration elsewhere, but in most areas of recto, ink still good and strong. Verso ink somewhat more abraded but still very legible. Currently mounted using thin tabs of japan paper, top and bottom, so that both sides are fully visible. Slightly darker than catalogue illustration, especially the verso.
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Catalogue Note

This handsome double-sided sheet of studies is a new and interesting addition to the graphic oeuvre of Perino del Vaga.  Although it does not seem to be connected to any known work, it was most probably executed during his early career in Rome and before the Sack of 1527, when he left the city and went to Genoa.

The study of the Pietà with donor, which is drawn three times on the recto together with several figure studies, mostly of women, seems stylistically not far from Perino's fresco of the Deposition in the Roman church of Santo Stefano del Cacco, still in situ and generally dated around 1520.  In that painting the figure of a female donor appears, like the male donor in the present study, in the left-hand corner (a preparatory drawing for the composition is in the Albertina, inv. no. 537).1 

A number of elements in this drawing are strongly reminiscent of compositions by Raphael. The first is the position of the body of Christ lying on the tombstone, which can be linked with a lost drawing by Raphael - a discarded idea for the Borghese Deposition - which is known through two later prints, one by Lucas Vosterman the Elder, the other by Francesco Lonsing.2  As Paul Joannides has suggested, the standing female figure all'antica to the right is quite close to one of the caryatids in the basamento of the Stanza di Eliodoro.  And the impressive male figure on the verso recalls the executioner seen from behind in Raphael's Judgement of Solomon on the ceiling of the Stanza della Segnatura.  This figure in particular indicates an early dating for the present drawing, as the use of pen appears more academic and restrained than on the recto, and similar to a very Raphaelesque finished sheet illustrating a classical legend, in the British Museum.3  It is very plausible that Perino copied this impressive figure from an as yet unidentified drawing or print by another master.  The two studies of legs in the background are instead very typical of Perino's more fluent pen work. 

1. See E. Parma Armani, Perino del Vaga tra Raffaello e Michelangelo, exhib. cat., Mantua, Palazzo Te, 2001, p. 128, reproduced fig. 30
2. See Raphael Invenit, exhib. cat., Rome, Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica, 1985, p. 169, nos. 8-9, reproduced p. 667
3. Inv. no. 1860-6-16-118; See Philip Pouncey and J.A. Gere, Italian Drawings in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum, Raphael and his Circle, London 1962, vol. I, p. 93, no. 158, reproduced vol. II, pl. 124