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
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