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Baccio Bandinelli (1493-1560)

A study of two male nudes (recto); A head of a man (verso) c. 1545

Pen and ink | 40.0 x 26.5 cm (sheet of paper) | RCIN 990394

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  • On the recto, a drawing of two male nudes, one leaning on a club.  Similarly posed figures are found in the composition of the Combat of the Gods engraved by Beatrizet after Bandinelli, and published in 1545. Though Bandinelli frequently repeated his poses and it is doubtful whether the drawing was a direct study for that composition; the date of this sheet is probably around that of the Combat. In the lower half of the sheet a head had previously been lightly sketched in red chalk by a garzone, before Bandinelli made his drawing (hard to see in reproduction). Inscribed above by the artist: […]ne Lionarda dona [...] / figliuola di lorenzo rosso.

    On the verso, a large drawing of the bust of a bearded man turned three-quarter to the left. This imposing drawing shows none of the idealisation seen in many of Bandinelli’s portraits, and may have been an informal study of an acquaintance. Bandinelli was one of the most assiduous self-portraitists of the Renaissance, and there has thus been a temptation to identify any bearded man depicted by the artist as Bandinelli himself. His features are readily identifiable, especially his long, slender, sharp nose with undulating profile, and are quite different from those of the sitter here. There is none of the idealisation seen in most of Bandinelli’s portrait images: the figure wears everyday dress, a collared jacket over a buttoned shirt, and this informality was no doubt a reflection of the nature of the drawing, a straightforward study of an acquaintance with no rhetorical bombast or aggrandising agenda.

    Michelangelo was Bandinelli’s role model (though the older artist held him in disdain) and his pen technique was conceived in emulation of Michelangelo’s, a patchwork of parallel hatching and cross-hatching. While Bandinelli never attained the flexibility and richness of Michelangelo’s pen drawings, this is an unusually successful and striking effort, the vigorous hatching with loose curling lines and dense areas of ink juxtaposed with patches of untouched white paper to give a liveliness of effect rarely seen in his drawings.

    Exh. The Medici, Michelangelo and the Art of Late Renaissance Florence, Detroit 2003, no. 150 (recto); The Art of Italy in the Royal Collection: Renaissance and Baroque, London 2007, no. 21 (verso)

    Probably among '13 by Baccio Bandinelli' in George III's Inventory A, p. 17 (an inserted sheet that pre-dates the rest of the Inventory, perhaps c.1770); also p. 47 (of c.1810), '17 to 29. Various Studys of Baccio Bandinello'

  • Medium and techniques

    Pen and ink


    40.0 x 26.5 cm (sheet of paper)