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ATTRIBUTED TO JACOPO ROBUSTI, CALLED JACOPO TINTORETTO (VENICE 1519-1594)
PROPERTY OF HEIRS OF FRANZ KOENIGS
ATTRIBUTED TO JACOPO ROBUSTI, CALLED JACOPO TINTORETTO (VENICE 1519-1594)

Head of Giuliano de’ Medici, after Michelangelo

Details
ATTRIBUTED TO JACOPO ROBUSTI, CALLED JACOPO TINTORETTO (VENICE 1519-1594)
Head of Giuliano de Medici, after Michelangelo
black and white chalk on brown (formerly blue) paper
14 1/8 x 10 1/8 in. (36 x 25.5 cm)
Provenance
Robert Udny (1722-1802), London and Teddington (L.2248).
Francis Abbott (1801-1893), Edinburgh (L. 970).
Possibly with Paul Cassirer & Co., Amsterdam; from whom acquired on 23 April 1924 for 800 guilders by
Franz Wilhelm Koenigs (1881-1941), Haarlem; thence by descent to the present owners.

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Lot Essay

An important practice in Tintoretto’s workshop was drawing after antique and modern sculptural models, in particular works by Michelangelo. Already the early art Historian Carlo Ridolfi mentioned in 1642 the existence of ‘infiniti disegni’ of this kind. The group of works was recently discussed by John Marciari, in whose opinion most of the many surviving drawings of this type should be attributed to members of Tintoretto’s bottega, rather than to the master himself (in Drawing in Tintoretto’s Venice, exhib. cat., New York, The Morgan Library and Museum, 2018-2019, pp. 90-113). For these exercises, Tintoretto must have collected an interesting group of casts; for instance, another contemporary, Vincenzo Borghini, mentions that Tintoretto had ‘no regard for expense in obtaining copies of [Michelangelo’s] figures in the Sacristy of San Lorenzo’ (quoted in Marciari, op. cit., p. 91).

The present sheet is one of a number of studies after the beautiful (and idealized) head of Giuliano de’ Medici (1479-1516), son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, as portrayed by Michelangelo in the full-length statue in the Sagrestia Nuova at San Lorenzo, Florence. Several other drawings from Tintoretto’s workshop of this head survive, each depicting the model from a different viewpoint. It has been argued that the cast of Giuliano’s head available in Tintoretto’s studio probably was a mask-like plaster of the face only, as in many of the surviving drawings the head is abruptly interrupted along the face’s edges (see Marciari, op. cit., p. 98). Paola Rossi, in her 1975 catalogue of Tintoretto’s drawings, listed no fewer than ten different versions of the head (I disegni di Jacopo Tintoretto, Florence, 1975, pp. 39-40, 50), of which one was recently sold at Christie’s, Paris, 24 March, 2021, lot 10 (as workshop of Tintoretto). Other, previously unpublished drawings have surfaced on the art market, such as a drawing sold at Sotheby’s, London, 4 July 2007, lot 25. While Rossi accepts three of the studies she lists as by Jacopo’s hand (Städel Museum, Frankfurt, inv. 15701; and Christ Church Picture Gallery, Oxford, inv. 357 and inv. 354; see Rossi, ibid., figs. 17-21), that number may need to be revised following Marciari’s discussion of the group.

As he has noted, the presence of several artists practising together in front of the same models in Tintoretto’s workshop over several years makes it difficult to establish with certainty the authorship of this kind of drawing. However, the present drawing is better than many drawings from Tintoretto’s workshop after sculpture, and it lacks the obvious shorthands used by copyist, where lines of hatching stretch across forms without a true understanding of its three-dimensional form. The strong qualities of the present drawing, on the other hand, are closely reminiscent of Jacopo’s own manner, and allow to suggest an attribution to the master himself.

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