This large drawing on blue paper is the work of Antonio Cimatori, nicknamed Il Visacci. The artist trained with Federico Barocci in Urbino and, like his master, worked in Rome, Pesaro, and Rimini for the Della Rovere family. The sheet was perhaps a presentation drawing, but it cannot be connected with any of the existing paintings by Cimatori. A 1582 inventory of the art collection in the Ducal Palace of Pesaro, however, describes a painting by the artist of this same subject (Matile, op. cit., p. 34). Another highly developed study for the same composition, the figures somwhat differently dispersed, but similar in size and technique, was sold under the name of Parmigianino at R.W.P. de Vries, Amsterdam, 10-11 May 1927, lot 316, as Julien Stock pointed out to Robert Landolt in 2004. More recently, in 2017, Stock also noted a black chalk drawing at the Biennale at Palazzo Corsini, Florence, which is also connected to the central section of the present drawing. It had been included in the first exhibition of the Woodner Collection as by Naldini (New York, William H. Schab Gallery and elsewhere, Woodner Collection I, Selection of Old Master Drawings before 1700, 1971-1972, no. 39, ill.); and was subsequently sold at Christie’s London, Old Master Drawings from the Woodner Collection, 2 July 1991, lot 83, more cautiously attributed to Naldini (the drawing was subsequently published as attributed to Cimatori, see G. Zavatta, ‘Disegni inediti di Antonio Cimatori detto Visacci’, in Commentari d’ Arte, XXXIX-XL, 2008, fig. 4). The figure standing next to the Cross is especially close to its equivalent in the Landolt drawing.
Other drawings by Cimatori, executed in a similarly finished style in brown ink with white highlights on blue paper, are a Saint Sebastian in the Louvre (inv. 11535) and a Crucifixion with Saints in the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart (inv. 1922.97; see G. Zavatta, ibid., pp. 56-60). The present drawing once belonged to the so-called Abrate album, as do lots 13, 14, and 28 in this sale.