7
7
Venetian or Ferrarese School, first half of the 16th Century
AN ALLEGORICAL FIGURE, POSSIBLY AN ASTRONOMER, HIS RIGHT HAND POINTING TO A TABLET
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7
Venetian or Ferrarese School, first half of the 16th Century
AN ALLEGORICAL FIGURE, POSSIBLY AN ASTRONOMER, HIS RIGHT HAND POINTING TO A TABLET
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Venetian or Ferrarese School, first half of the 16th Century
AN ALLEGORICAL FIGURE, POSSIBLY AN ASTRONOMER, HIS RIGHT HAND POINTING TO A TABLET
Black chalk heightened with white chalk on blue paper
222 by 179 mm; 8 3/4  by 7 in
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A very assured study, executed in a vibrant combination of black chalk heightened with white chalk on blue paper, this intriguing sheet is highly reminiscent in its media of the work of Paris Bordone and Tintoretto, but differs stylistically from the drawings of these two masters in the treatment of the anatomy and the drapery - two aspects which are so recognizable in the drawings of both of these artists.  The figure is seated with his back to the spectator, yet twists so he is almost seen in profile, resting his left arm (in which he holds a book) on some kind of solid block, presumably of marble or stone. With his right hand, he touches a tablet, which is propped upright on an higher rectangular block.  The drawing is rapidly and vigorously executed, and the artist who made it clearly learned a lot from Titian's free, bold and pictorial approach to draftsmanship. 

Although we are not aware of any similar drawings in the small corpus of works on paper attributed to the Ferrarese artist Giovanni Luteri, known as Dosso Dossi (circa 1489-1542), comparisons of style and subject can plausibly be made between this enigmatic and powerful drawing and a group of five paintings by Dosso, probably once part of a single cycle, representing allegorical figures of Geometry and Astronomy.1  These imposing, solitary figures are set against bare landscapes or empty voids, backgrounds which serve as an effective counterbalance to the extremely mannered poses.  The dating and subjects of these paintings have been debated by scholars since the 1960s, but they are generally placed somewhere between the 1520s and the 1540s. The figures show a very clear debt to Michelangelo in their grandiose and balanced compositions, and powerful foreshortening.  

1. See From Borso to Cesare d'Este. The School of Ferrara, 1450-1628, exhib. cat., London, Matthiessen Fine Art, 1984, pp. 89- 90, nos 41 (a,b,c), reproduced pls. 41-42; A. Ballarin, Dosso Dossi, Padua 1995, vol. I, pp. 323-324, nos. 406-410, reproduced vol. II, figs. 579, 584, 592, 599, 606

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