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Study for a draped female figure / Studies of figures
Sarto, Andrea del (Andrea d'Agnolo)
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Sarto, Andrea del (Andrea d'Agnolo)

Florence, 1486 - Florence, 1530

Sarto, Andrea del (Andrea d'Agnolo) See author's file

Study for a draped female figure / Studies of figures

Ca. 1523. Pencil, Red chalk on laid paper.
Not on display

The cycle of monochrome frescoes of the Story of St John the Baptist and Four Virtues, which del Sarto painted in the cloister of the Compagnia dello Scalzo, Florence, occupied the painter for about fifteen years, a period that covers nearly his entire activity as a painter. It is now generally thought that the project was started around 1509, with the painting of the Baptism of Christ, and finished in 1526, with the Birth of the Baptist. Del Sarto was assisted for most of this lengthy undertaking by his collaborator Franciabigio. The Scalzo frescoes mark an important stage in the development of early sixteenth-century Florentine painting. The monumental naturalism of the figures and the clarity of their relationship to their spatial setting -both landscape and interior- reveal how successfully del Sarto had absorbed the innovations in contemporary painting achieved by Michelangelo (1475-1564) and Raphael (1483-1520).

The principal study on the recto corresponds closely to that of the female spectator to the left of The Annunciation to Zacharias. The woman´s shawl in the painted figure is fractionally longer and its corner hangs down a little lower, while the further side of the garment, in shadow, is seen as it hangs down the other side of her back. In the drawing, the artist has paid much attention to the fall of light on the material as it covers the woman´s head, shoulder and arm, and much the same subtle pattern of shimmering highlight and shadow is adhered to in the painted result.

The subsidiary study on the recto, with the waist and legs of a standing youth with his body turned to the left, is for the bearded male spectator to the right of The Annunciation to Zacharias. Like the woman who stands directly opposite him, he wears a cloak in which he wraps his crossed arms. Beneath his cloak is his tunic, which conies down as far as his knees. His stockinged legs, with light-weight slippers on his feet, appear in precisely the same configuration as those in the subsidiary study. That these two "framing" figures should have been drawn together on the same piece of paper, though back to back, is revealing of the artist´s creative process. It was common practice in the Italian Renaissance for artists to make studies from the youthful model posed in the studio for figures to appear in their paintings. For this reason it should not surprise us that the legs of the bearded man to the right of The Annunciation to Zacharias were apparently based on those of a youth.

The studies on the verso are for the figure of the annunciate angel also in the composition of The Annunciation to Zacharias. The young studio assistant who was drawn in positions corresponding to that of the angel is very likely the same youth who modelled for the legs of the bearded man. Left of center in the fresco, the angel, wearing a long garment, walks towards Zacharias, who stands opposite. The studies on the verso give an idea of the lengths to which del Sarto went in order to resolve the pose of a given figure. Starting with the full-length study on the left, the nude youth walks forward to the right with his right hand pointing slightly forwards. In the three separate studies for the arms of the same figure drawn on the right of the sheet, the arms were then laid crossed on the chest, as are the angel´s in the fresco. The head drawn in red chalk in the top left corresponds more or less exactly with the angel´s painted counterpart, while the drapery study, to the right of center, is still quite some way from the angel´s garment as it was eventually to appear (Text drawn from Turner, N.: From Michelangelo to Annibale Carracci. A century of Italian drawings from the Prado, Art Services International-Museo Nacional del Prado, 2008, pp. 60-62).

Technical data

Inventory number
Sarto, Andrea del (Andrea d'Agnolo)
Study for a draped female figure / Studies of figures
Ca. 1523
Pencil; Red chalk
Laid paper
Height: 281 mm; Width: 200 mm
Bequest of Pedro Fernández Durán y Bernaldo de Quirós, 1931; I. Brun</br></br>

Bibliography +

Freedberg, S.J., Andrea del Sarto, II, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1963, pp. lám. 140.

Shearman, John, Andrea del Sarto, II, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1965, pp. 364.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., I Grandi Disegni Italiani Nelle Collezioni Di Madrid, Silvana Editoriale D'Arte, Milán, 1978, pp. 13 / lám. 6; 45 y 85, nº 54.

Chiarini, Marco, Andrea del Sarto 1486-1530 : dipinti e disegni a Firenze, D'Angeli: Haeusler Editore, Milán, 1986, pp. 218.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de dibujos. Dibujos italianos del siglo XVI (por Nicholas Turner, con la colaboración de José Manuel Matilla), V, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2004, pp. 60,387.

Turner, Nicholas, From Michelangelo to Annibale Carracci : a century of Italian drawings from the Prado / by Nicholas Turner ; with an essay by José Manuel Matilla., Alexandria, Virginia , Art Services International, Chicago, 2008, pp. 60, 387.

Turner, N., Andrea del Sarto 'Study for a draped female figure' En:, Italian masterpieces from Spain's royal court, Museo del Prado, National Gallery of Victoria Thames & Hudson, 2014, pp. 56.

Other inventories +

Inv. Legado Pedro Fernández Durán, 1931. Núm. 97.

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in pen and brown ink. Front, upper right corner

Exhibitions +

Italian Masterpieces from Spain's Royal Court. Museo Nacional del Prado
16.05.2014 - 31.08.2014

De Miguel Ángel a Annibale Carracci. Un siglo de Dibujos Italianos en el Museo del Prado
25.10.2008 - 26.07.2009

Un siglo de dibujos italianos en el Museo del Prado. De Miguel Ángel a Annibale Carracci
23.11.2004 - 13.02.2005

Update date: 04-11-2021 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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