The name of Giovanni da Udine has always been associated with such decorative motifs, therefore it is not at all surprising to find an old attribution to him on this sheet. His grotesque designs were vastly influential, and his talent for this type of decoration was first commented on by Vasari in his Vite. Vasari stressed especially his precocious skill in drawing animals: 'essendo ancor putto, durante le cacce col padre Francesco Ricamatore era solito disegnare gli animali, manifestando così il suo talento; tanto che il padre, artigiano egli stesso, lo mandò in tirocinio da Giorgione.' 1 Arnold Nesselrath, in his illuminating article, has tried to clarify which drawings can be attributed with confidence to the artist.2 Although these are all executed in pen and ink like the present work, they are stylistically very different and quite distinctive. We are grateful to Dr. Nesselrath who has kindly informed us that this drawing corresponds to a detail of the decoration in the Vatican Logge.
After his first collaboration with Raphael in the Loggia of the Farnesina (1518), Giovanni da Udine was involved in the main Roman decorative schemes of the first decades of the century, from the Vatican Logge (finished 1519) to stucco decorations in Villa Madama (signed and dated 1525) and the Sala dei Pontefici in the Vatican. He of necessity had a studio of artists carefully trained to assist him and able to execute his designs for his numerous commissions.
1. G. Vasari, Le Vite dei più eccellenti Pittori Scultori ed Architetti, ed. G. Milanesi, vol. VI, Florence 1881, pp. 549-50
2. A. Nesselrath, 'Giovanni da Udine disegnatore,' Bollettino, IX, 2, Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana 1989, pp. 237-291
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