SPANISH SCHOOL, SECOND HALF OF THE 16TH CENTURY
HEAD OF CHRIST IN PROFILE TO THE LEFT
bears old attribution in brown ink: Michael Angelo
374 by 268 mm; 14⅝ by 10½ in
Dr. and Mrs. Hugh Squire,
their sale, London, Sotheby's, 4 July 1975, lot 70 (as Baccio Bandinelli)
This intriguing and accomplished portrayal of the head of Christ, seen in profile to the left, was presented as the work of the Florentine Renaissance sculptor and painter, Baccio Bandinelli (1488-1560), when it last appeared on the market in 1975 (see Provenance). Though the drawing possesses an extremely sculptural quality, with the artist skillfully employing the use of stumping to create a soft, modular finish to Christ’s face, coupled with the decisive use of black chalk, to delineate the wispy curls of his beard and hair, the technique employed is not consistent with any other drawn work from Bandinelli’s oeuvre.
It has recently been suggested that the present sheet may in fact be the work of a Spanish artist, possibly Gaspar Becerra (c.1520-1568), Becerra was based in Italy during the first half of his career, assisting Giorgio Vasari on the Hall of One Hundred Days in the Cancellaria Palace, Rome, and also worked with Daniele da Volterra, but subsequently returned to Spain, around 1557. By 1562, Becerra had come to the attention of King Philip II of Spain, who was in the process of building his monumental Royal residence, San Lorenzo de El Escorial, and he was appointed as a Royal painter on 26 November of the same year.
The majority of Becerra’s surviving drawings show the significant influence that his time in Italy had on him, with the maniera style very clearly evident in his surviving chalk drawings after Michelangelo, a fine example of which is in the collection of the Museo del Prado, Madrid.1
1. A.E. Pérez Sánchez, Catálogo de dibujos. I. Dibujos españoles de los siglos XV-XVI-XVII, Madrid 1972, p. 22