Lot 6
  • 6

Bartolomeo Passarotti

18,000 - 22,000 USD
68,750 USD
bidding is closed


  • Bartolomeo Passarotti
  • Study of seated woman sleeping
  • Pen and brown ink;
    bears illegible, obscured inscription in brown ink, verso


The Hon. Sir Charles Greville (L.549),
George Guy, 4th Earl of Warwick (L.2600) (by inheritance from the above, his uncle)
John Postle Heseltine (L.1507),
Henry Oppenheimer,
sale, London, Christie's, 10-14 July 1936, lot 132;
Dr. Michel Gaud,
his sale, Monaco, Sotheby's, 20 June 1987, lot 34,
Acquired at the above sale by A. Alfred Taubman

Catalogue Note

This characteristically bold and vigorous drawing by Passarotti, very likely made from life, may well have been executed in the mid to late 1550s, during the artist’s second Roman period, when he was working together with Taddeo Zuccari.  A Roman influence is certainly detectable in the elegance and solemnity of the figure, which may have been drawn from life but all the same resembles in pose the seated St. Helena in an engraving, The Dream of Saint Helena, executed after Raphael by an unknown follower of Marcantonio Raimondi (fig. 1).

Passarotti had first worked in Rome in 1550-1555, allying himself with the famous architect Jacopo Vignola (1507-1573).  On the death of Pope Giulio III, however, he returned to Bologna, and by 1560 he had established his own bottega there, but he seems to have returned to work in Rome at various points during the later 1550s and thereafter. There is, though, little in the way of documentation of his movements, or works that can be securely linked with the artist’s Roman experiences, which makes it very difficult to assess the real impact of the Eternal City on his style.  none the less, it seems that his work as an engraver – which played a significant part in his artistic life – originates from his time in Rome in the late 1550s.  Twenty etchings by Passarotti are known, and all are inspired by Roman models – chiefly Taddeo Zuccari, but also Francesco Salviati, Pirro Ligorio, Luzio Romano and other artist working in this same milieu. The subtlety and monumentality of the present sheet surely bear witness to these Roman experiences and influences, which resulted in a slightly freer and less pedantic ductus than is evident in some earlier works.

The early biographer Malvasia insisted on Passarotti’s skill both as a draughtsman and as an engraver, and highlighted the fame and admiration he achieved with collectors, fame that must have been based to a considerable extent on works such as the present, elaborate and finished drawing, surely made as an independent work of art in its own right.