Lot 1
  • 1

JACOPO LIGOZZI | A knight, half length, wearing armour and an elaborate plumed helmet

25,000 - 35,000 GBP
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Manner of Jacopo Ligozzi
  • A knight, half length, wearing armour and an elaborate plumed helmet 
  • Pen and brown ink, heightened with white over black chalk;bears inscriptions on the backing sheet in black chalk: Jak. Ligozzi/Reiter mit Federbusch (in the hand of Arthur Feldmann) and Della Bella, and numbering in red chalk: 153 
  • 288 by 203mm


Eugène Rodrigues (1853-1928), Paris (L.897);
Dr. Arthur Feldmann (1877-1941), Brno;
looted by the Gestapo during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia;
on deposit at the State Czechoslovak Bank, Prague;
accessioned by the National Gallery, Prague, in 1956, inv. no. DK 4613 (bears their mark, versoNGGS/PRAHA, not in Lugt);
restituted to the heirs of Arthur Feldmann in 2015


Prague, Waldstein Riding School Gallery, Olomouc Museum of Arts and Cheb, Gallery of Fine Arts, The Florentines, Art from the Time of the Medici Grand Dukes, 2002-3, no. 86 (entry by Milan Togner)


M. Zlatohlávek, 'On the threshold of the baroque in Tuscany (Florence, Pisa, Siena) - 1574-1606: drawings from Czech public collections', Uměni, vol. 53, no. 3 (2005), p. 240


Laid down on an old backing sheet. A tear on the right mid-margin and some ridges and undulation of the paper dew to the backing sheet. A crack running to the right of the helmet towards the armor. A paper ridge to the left running near the left margin in the middle section of the sheet. Some glue slight staining along the right edge, and light brown stains to the left bottom corner and top right. Some surface dirt, overall media and image strong.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

This handsome study of a young man, half-length, wearing armour and a fanciful helmet decorated with ostrich feathers, is closely associated with two other drawings by Ligozzi, both full length studies of knights in elaborate armour and fantastical helmets, one in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, the other in Munich.1  It was Gianvittorio Dillon who first recognised that the drawings in Paris and Munich were made in connection with an important tournament that took place in Pisa on 10 February 1603, to celebrate the wedding of Cosimo, the nephew of the duke Alessandro de’Medici, to Lucrezia Catani.2  In a detailed manuscript description of this event, written by Francesco Maria Gualterotti3, we read that Cosimo de’Medici was lavishly dressed in white silk, and wore gilded armour with a fanciful helmet that resembled the tail of a displaying peacock (‘era vestito riccamente d’oro, e di seta bianca con armadura dorata tutta, e con cimiro molto vago, il quale a poco a poco aprendosi era molto somigliante a la ruota del ochiuto pavone’).  The description of the helmet corresponds closely to the drawing in Munich, and in 1987 Mario Scalini observed that he knew of no other helmets with similar decorations, and that the drawings must therefore be linked to the same commission and tournament.4   The present drawing was unknown to Dillon, but as Martin Zlatohlávek has more recently noted (see Literature), it can without doubt be added to the two in Paris in Munich, as a further record of this extraordinary event.  The drawing is an excellent example of Ligozzi’s ability to describe with accuracy and great attention the world around him.  While the armour is only summarily indicated in subtle and delicate washes applied with the point of the brush, the much more detailed rendering, in pen and ink as well as wash, of the helmet and of the facial features of the young knight suggests that this captivating study could well have been executed from life.

A further addition to this small group of drawings was suggested by Françoise Viatte, who proposed that a drawing in the Musée des beaux-arts d’Orléans, which also depicts a very similar, elaborate helmet decorated with ostrich and peacock feathers, could be a study for the helmet worn by Cosimo de'Medici in the tournament held in Pisa in 1603.5  When compared with the other three drawings, the Orléans sheet is, however, slightly different (and rather dryer) in execution, focussing solely on the description of the helmet, and would seem in fact to be a subsequent record of a helmet of this type, rather than a drawing actually made in connection with the festivities.    

The present sheet, in contrast, is very sensitively drawn, capturing not only the lavish luxury of this event in the description of the fanciful helmet, but also, and equally accurately, the features and expression of the young knight, ready to participate in the magnificence of this great courtly event.

Ligozzi arrived in Florence in 1577, at the invitation of Francesco I de’Medici, and worked at the court not only as an official painter, but also as a designer of jewellery, glass, furniture and tapestries. His miniaturist precision and the accuracy of his graphic style were very much appreciated in the Medici entourage, and he was also very active as a scientific draughtsman, making studies of plants and animals that demonstrate a talent worthy of the best miniaturist.  As an artist closely associated with so many aspects of the artistic life of the Medici court, it is comes as no surprise that Ligozzi should have been involved in the designs for the great 1603 marriage celebrations in Pisa.    

The drawing belonged to the illustrious Czech collector Dr. Arthur Feldmann, whose collection was extensively looted during World War II.  A significant group of restituted Feldmann drawings was sold at Sotheby's in London on 6 July 2005; for a full account of the collection and its fate, see the introduction preceding lot 11 in that sale catalogue. 

1.  Paris, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, inv. no. M. 2712; Munich, Graphische Sammlung, inv. no. 2300
2. See E. Brugerolles, Disegni Veneti dell’Ecole des beaux-arts di Parigi, exhib. cat., Venice, San Giorgio Maggiore, 1988, p. 39, no. 24, reproduced fig. 24
3.  ’Torneo a Piedi Mantenuto in Pisa Dall’Illustriss.et Eccellentiss. Sig. D. Cosimo Medici Gran Principe di Toscana. Raccolto, et descritto dal Sig. Francesco Maria Gualterotti....’. 
4. See exhib. cat., op. cit., Venice 1988, p. 39
5. Orléans, Musée des beaux-arts d’Orléans, inv. no. 1518; Dessins italiens de Venice à Palerme du musée des beaux-arts d’Orléans XVe-XVIIIe siècle, exhib. cat., Orléans, Musée des beaux-arts d’Orléans, 2003-4, pp. 50-51, no. 24, reproduced