The graphic style evident in the present drawing is reminiscent of that of Sodoma, who was, according, to Vasari, Daniele’s master, and whose influence is apparent in the latter’s early works. Characteristic features of this group of drawings include parallel vigorous strokes to indicate the shadows, very typical hollow eyes, and a distinctive approach to pentimenti. The last of these features is also evident in one of the British Museum sheets,3 which is, like the drawing in the Rijksmuseum, preparatory for the figures of Aeneas and his attendant in a composition of Mercury urging Aeneas to leave Dido, mentioned by Vasari but last recorded in the inventory of Fulvio Orsini (1529-1600), and now known only from a copy, discovered by Voss in a Swedish private collection.4 The lost painting is perhaps most noteworthy for the fact that Michelangelo assisted Daniele in making the design.
The various nude studies on this fascinating double sided sheet were most probably executed from terracotta or wax models, rather than from life. They do not seem to relate to any known painting by Daniele da Volterra, but the poses and orientation of the figures at the bottom of the recto looking upwards, together with the sleeping figures studied in various different poses both on the recto and on the verso, make it most likely that the sheet was made in preparation for a painting depicting The Resurrection of Christ.
1. London, British Museum, inv. nos. 1956,1013.8 to 1956,1013.20 and 1976,0515.2; J.A. Gere and Philip Pouncey, Italian Drawings in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum, Artists working in Rome c. 1550 to c. 1640, London 1983, vol. I, pp. 65-68, nos. 70-92, reproduced vol. II, pls. 76-84; Amsterdam, Rijskmuseum, inv. no. RP-T-1959-268; see P. Barolsky, Daniele da Volterra, A Catalogue Raisonné, New York & London 1979, p. 99, reproduced fig. 74
2. The watermark on the sheet is E. Heawood 882, Rome 1555
3. Inv. no. 1976,0515.2; Three studies of Aeneas and his attendant
4. See Barolsky, op. cit., pp. 98-99, no. 19
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