In this exceptional double-sided drawing, two brilliant young artists worked each on one side of the same sheet. On the recto, Taddeo Zuccaro drew the graceful but commanding figure of Diana, as identified by the crescent on her forehead, striding forwards accompanied by her hounds. On the verso, Taddeo’s friend Passarotti filled the sheet with a larger, similarly draped female figure, seen from the back while carrying a vase on her head. Following the old inscription (and probably working from an old photograph, as he was unaware of the drawing on the back), John Gere rightly attributed the recto to Taddeo, and compared it to a study in the Uffizi of a woman running forwards (inv. 1146 S; see op. cit., no. 48, pl. 21). The Landolt drawing is executed in the artist’s distinctive ‘electric’ penwork and dates to the early 1550s, when he was living in Rome. While the figure on this sheet cannot be directly connected with any of Taddeo’s paintings, the story of Diana and her nymphs unravels on the ceiling of the ground floor of Villa Giulia, the suburban residence of Pope Julius III on the Pincio, which Taddeo painted with Prospero Fontana between 1553 and 1555, as recorded both by Vasari and documentary evidence.
The boldly executed figure on the verso was already recognized by Hans Calmann and Robert Landolt as a characteristic drawing by Passarotti. It was subsequently published as such by Michael Matile (op. cit.). In its drapery, wrapped round the body from the waist down, and its matching position from behind, the figure appears almost as a playful exercise based on Taddeo’s drawing on the recto. Raphael’s woman holding a vessel frescoed in the Stanza dell’Incendio might have inspired the artist, who presumably added the strips of paper to extend the original sheet. An important visual document reflecting the relationship between Zuccaro and Passarotti, both born in 1529, the double-sided Landolt drawing provides further evidence of their friendship and working rapport. As recorded by Raffaello Borghini (1584), the two artists knew each other and lived in the same household in Rome from 1551, when Passarotti is first documented in the city: ‘after a while, Passarotti came back to Rome and started working with Taddeo Zuccaro, and lived together for a long period’ (‘[Passarotti] dopo non molto tempo ritorno’ a Roma e si mise a lavorare con Taddeo Zucchero, e assai tempo dimorarono insieme’, Il Riposo, ed. 1827, p. 98). During this period Passarotti produced a set of etchings and engravings based on Zuccaro’s designs, including The Risen Christ, five apostles and Joseph and Potiphar’s wife (see B. Bohn, The Illustrated Bartsch, Commentary, pt. 2, IX, 1996, pp. 26-31, ill.; and C. Jenkins in The Renaissance of Etching, exhib. cat., New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2019, no. 73, ill.).
While displaying Passarotti’s characteristic style, sich as his energetic cross-hatching and bold penwork, the imposing figure on the verso perhaps appears too dynamic to be of his own invention: it may have been a study after a Taddeo design to be engraved later. The relationship between the two was not just one way: while Taddeo exerted influence on Passarotti, he also developed the fluency of his penwork under the influence of his Bolognese colleague, as this drawing suggests. As recently observed by Heiko Damm, Passarotti probably also added the smaller figure on the recto (op. cit., 2017, pp. 73-74).
Testament to an artistic exchange and the rapid development of the two young artists in Rome, the Landolt sheet is one of the few from the Cinquecento where two associates performed on the same sheet, another example being a double-sided drawing jointly executed in circa 1505, given to Lorenzo Costa and Amico Aspertini, at the Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge (inv. 1965.338; see J. G. Harper, Verso: the flip side of Master Drawings, Cambridge, MA, 2001, no. 3, ill.).