The original and intensely coloured style of the paintings of the North-Italian artist Tanzio da Varallo spring from his refined and delicate drawings, most of which are executed in red chalk on red or pink prepared paper, as seen in the present example and lots 66 and 68. While the drawing on the recto, ‘one of the highlights of the graphic œuvre of the artist’ (Bareggi and Ferro, op. cit., p. 33), has not been directly connected to a painting, the drawing on the verso is a study for the Virgin on the ceiling fresco from 1629 in the Nazari chapel of the Basilica of San Gaudenzio in Novara (P. Venturoli in Tanzio da Varallo. Realismo, fervore e contemplazione in un pittore del Seicento, exhib. cat., Milan, Palazzo Reale, 2000, no. 32, ill.).
The numbers in pen and black ink at upper left on this and the following drawings have been associated with Bartolomeo Carlo Borsetti, born in Varallo (Bareggi and Ferro, op. cit., p. 35). They may document the order of a sketchbook or album of which numerous other sheets are known, and which predominantly date from Tanzio’s late years.