Giorgio Vasari (L.2858), with part of his decorative borders in pen and ink with brush shading at the top and bottom of the sheet;
Jonathan Richardson Sr. (L.2183), his mount with attribution Leonardo da Vinci (recto) and shelfmarks Zk.32/Z.501.//Zg./9. on the back of the mount (L.2984);
Nathaniel Hone (L.2793);
Richard Cosway (L.628);
Addison Francis Baker-Cresswell, Cresswell and Hadston, Northumberland;
by whom given to Dorothy Winkworth;
by descent to her daughter, Mary, later Mrs. G.W. Wrangham, London and Hatfield;
by descent to a private collection, Northumberland
This study is representative of the importance given to drawings in early Renaissance workshop practice. They were used to train artists to master the use of light and shade to create form and relief, with the same effect that could be achieved in a three-dimensional sculpted work. The practice of executing independent drapery studies, in a variety of media, was probably first developed by Verrocchio, a sculptor and painter leading an influential bottega, and perfected by his talented pupils, including Leonardo, Lorenzo di Credi, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Perugino. It was carried on up to circa 1500 by artists such as Fra Bartolommeo.
These studies were generally drawn from a wooden mannequin wrapped in cloth dipped in clay to allow the light to enhance the depth of each fold. Contemporary treatises by Filarete and Alberti, and later by Vasari, describe this method. The majority of the studies were not executed with a particular composition in mind but rather for the universality of the poses, which could be used on numerous occasions, and as a means of instructing pupils in the style of their master. This was essential for the collaborative studio practice in which more than one artist would work on the same painting. The sculptural quality of these studies, as seen in the present example, gives them an exceptional monumentality, and the intensity of observation and refinement of execution create a strong visual impact.
Remains of the characteristic Vasari mount and a small fragment of the elegant cartouche are visible on this sheet, evidence of his personal interest in this type of study. The drawing was probably among those Vasari attributed to Lorenzo di Credi in his Libro dei Disegni, an artist whom he praised as the one who came closest to imitating with diligence and patience the polish and finish of Leonardo's own drawings. He writes: 'E perché a Lorenzo piaceva fuor di modo la maniera di Lionardo, la seppe così bene imitare, che niuno fu nella pulitezza e nel finire l'opere con diligenza l'imitasse più di lui; come si può vedere in molti disegni, fatti e di stile e di penna o d'acquerello, che sono nel nostro Libro: fra i quali sono alcuni ritratti da modegli di terra, acconci sopra con un panno lino incerato e con terra liquida: con tanta diligenza imitati e con tanta pacienza finiti, che non si può a pena credere, non che fare.' 1
The present study is particularly close in style and technique to a Drapery Study with the Child Christ standing on the Madonna's knee by Lorenzo di Credi which appeared on the art market in 1999.2 A few other studies attributed to him are focused on the observation and rendering of the folds formed by a drapery wrapped around figures, see, for instance, three studies in the Uffizi, nos. 506 E and 507 E and the more elaborate one for the figure of Astronomy, no. 493 E.3 Another given to Lorenzo di Credi is in the Fondation Custodia, Paris, A study of drapery for a seated figure,4 executed in silverpoint on pale pinkish ground, which corresponds, with small differences, to the famous grisaille on fine linen by Leonardo in the Louvre.5 In 1989 Françoise Viatte dedicated an exhibition at the Louvre to the study of these fascinating drawings: Léonard de Vinci: les études de draperie. A further drapery study attributed to Lorenzo di Credi, also after the drawing on linen in the Louvre mentioned above, is in the British Museum.6 All these works clearly demonstrate the practice of copying in the bottega either from same models or often from other drawings.
1. Giorgio Vasari, Le Vite de' più eccellenti Pittori Scultori ed Architettori, ed. Milanesi, Florence 1829, vol. IV, p. 564
2. New York, Christie's, 28 January 1999, lot 49
3. Anna Maria Petrioli Tofani, Inventario, 1. Disegni esposti, Florence 1986, pp. 227-8, nos. 506 E, 507 E; p. 222, no. 493 E, reproduced
4. James Byam Shaw, The Italian Drawings of the Frits Lugt Collection, Paris 1983, vol. I, pp.15-6, reproduced vol. III, pl. 13
5. Carmen Bambach, Leonardo da Vinci, exhib. cat., New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2003, pp. 288-90, no. 17, reproduced
6. Hugo Chapman and Marzia Faietti, Fra Angelico to Leonardo, Italian Renaissance Drawings, exhib. cat., London, British Museum, 2010, p. 28, reproduced fig. 10
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