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Francesco di Simone Ferrucci (Fiesole 1437 – Florence 1493). A Study for a Statue of the Madonna and Child. National Galleries of Scotland.

Francesco di Simone Ferrucci (Fiesole 1437 - Florence 1493).  Madonna and Child. National Galleries of Scotland.

Francesco di Simone Ferrucci (Fiesole 1437 – Florence 1493). Madonna and Child. National Galleries of Scotland.

 

Francesco di Simone Ferrucci (Fiesole 1437-Florence 1493)
A Study for a Statue of the Madonna and Child Standing in a Niche
Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash on tan laid paper, 261 x 105 mm, 10 1/4 x 4 5/32 in. Watermark: Key.
Now in the National Galleries of Scotland

This monumental study of the Madonna and Child in a niche closely resembles a group of sketchbook pages now divided among the British Museum, the Musée Condé in Chantilly, the Kupferstichkabinett Berlin, Hamburg, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.[1] The pen technique is strikingly similar, as well as the typology of the drapery folds and the faces, hands, and feet. Aside from the more finished figures on both sides of the Metropolitan sheet, the most telling resemblances occur in the eyes, face, and limbs of the seated boy on the verso of Chantilly fol. 8.[2] The use of wash in this drawing is analogous to that in Francesco’s drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.[3]

The present drawing is more finished than the sketchbook pages and larger in scale, and it is therefore likely to have been made as a ricordo of a sculpture or perhaps a study for a finished work. Both types of drawing would show close attention to details of contour and surface, as in this sheet. While the sophisticated Ghirlandaiesque cross-hatching of this drawing is not found in the sketchbook pages, it is a specialized technique more appropriate for a finished drawing. In this hatching the graceful curves and hooks of the pen strokes recall Schogauer’s engravings, which were well known and much admired in late fifteenth century Florence.

The close morphological resemblances between this drawing and Francesco’s half-length marble relief in the Art Gallery of New South Wales confirms its close association with the work of Francesco di Simone.

Caroline Lanfranc de Panthou in her discussion of the eight sketchbook pages at Chantilly gives a comprehensive summary of the problems surrounding the attribution. There she convincingly asserts that Francesco di Simone Ferrucci should be accepted as the author of the drawings without reservation, not because of the circumstantial arguments of earlier scholars, but because of the connection established by Sirèn between a drawing in Stockholm and Francesco’s tomb for Alessandro Tartagni (1479-80) in the Church of San Domenico at Bologna, his only signed work.[4]

Vasari mentions Francesco di Simone in his life of Verrochio as a pupil of the master.[5] Since they were almost the same age, he has been described as more of an assistant. The Tartagni monument suggests that his style may already have been substantially formed by Desiderio da Settignano before he came under the influence of Verocchio.[6] A sketchbook page attributed to Verrocchio in the National Gallery of Scotland[7] is functionally parallel to many of the Francesco di Simone sketchbook pages with a large, more finished figure surrounded by smaller, freer sketches in the margins. The present drawing may have occupied such a position on a page before it was trimmed, although the curved lines behind the proper right shoulder of the Virgin, surely original, show that the artist indicated a niche around the figures.

Provenance: Sir. J. C. Robinson (Lugt 1433); John Malcolm of Poltalloch; The Hon. A. E. Gathorne-Hardy; Geoffrey Gathorne-Hardy; The Hon. Robert Gathorne-Hardy, his sale, London, Sotheby’s, 24 November 1976, lot 3 (as Sienese School); Michael Miller Lucy Vivante Fine Arts, Inc.; National Galleries of Scotland.

Exhibited: London, P. & D. Colnaghi and the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Loan Exhibition of Drawings by Old Master from the Collection of Mr. Geoffrey Gathorne-Hardy, 1971-72, no. 11 (as unkown).

Literature: Descriptive Catalogue of Drawings by the Old Masters in the Possession of the Hon. A. E. Gathorne-Hardy, 1902, p. 27, no. 47 (as unkown); Bernard Berenson, I disegni dei pittori fiorentini, Milan, 1961, vol. II, no. 2737 (as Giovanni Antonio Sogliani); Bernard Berenson, The Drawings of the Florentine Painters, 1938, vol. II, no. 2737; Bernard Berenson, The Drawings of the Florentine Painters, 1903, vol. II, no. 2737

Related Literature: Dessins italiens du musée Condé à Chantilly, I, Autour du Pérugin, Filippino Lippi, et Michel-Ange, exh. cat. Chantilly, 1995; pp. 48-73; Annamaria Petrioli Tofani, Il disegno fiorentino del tempo di Lorenzo il Magnifico, exh. cat. Florence, Uffizi, Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe, 8 April-5 July 1992, pp. 240-243, nos. 12.1-12.3; Jacob Bean with the assistance of Lawrence Turcic, 15th and 16th Century Italian Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1982, pp. 93f., no. 82; Peter Ward-Jackson, Italian Drawings, Volume One, 14th-16th Century, Victoria and Albert Museum Catalogues, London, 1979, pp. 13-15, nos. 2-4; Emmanuelle Brugerolles, De Michel-Ange à Géricault, Dessins de la Donation Armand-Valton, exh. cat., Paris, 1982, pp. 86ff., no. 43; Otto Kurz, “A Group of Florentine Drawings for an Altar,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, XVIII (1955), pp. 35-53; A. E. Popham and Philip Pouncey, Italian Drawings in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum, The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, London, 1950, pp. 38-40, nos. 56 and 57, Plates LIV-LVII.



[1] George Goldner has kindly confirmed the attribution on the basis of the Metropolitan sheet. See related literature for references to the other drawings.

[2] Caroline Lanfranc de Panthou, in Dessins italiens du musée Condé à Chantilly, I, Autour du Pérugin, Filippino Lippi, et Michel-Ange, exh. cat. Chantilly, 1995; pp. 59ff., ill.

[3] Peter Ward-Jackson, Victoria and Albert Museum Catalogues, Italian Drawings, Volume One, 14th-16th Century, London, 1979, pp. 13ff., nos. 2-4.

[4] Osvald Sirèn, “Florentine Drawings in Stockholm,” Critica d’arte, VIII (1949-50), pp. 274f.; Chantilly, 1995; p. 48f.

[5] Giorgio Vasari, Le Vite de’ più eccellenti pittori scultori ed architettori, ed. Milanesi, Florence, 1906 (1981), vol. III, p. 371.

[6] Exh. cat. Chantilly, 1995; p. 49.

[7] Hugh Macandrew, Old master drawings from the National Gallery of Scotland. exh. cat. Washington, D. C., 1990, p. ??. no. ?

Isidoro Bianchi: Painter, Stuccatore, and Architect