Description & Technical information

This draiwng by Federico Zuccaro is a design for a funerary monument for a pope, although no finished work after this design is known to have survived. Cristina Acidini Luchinat has suggested that the two allegorical female figures – one joyful and the other melancholy – may represent Heaven on the left, who will receive the dead Pope, and Earth on the right, who mourns the loss of the Holy Father. The tomb is topped with a blank coat of arms surmounted by crossed keys and a papal tiara. This drawing has been dated by James Mundy on stylistic grounds to the end of the 1580s or the early 1590s, which would suggest that it may have been intended to commemorate one of the five Popes who died at around this time, namely Gregory XIII, who died in 1585, Sixtus V and Urban VII, who both died in 1590, or Gregory XIV and Innocent IX, who died within a few weeks of each other in 1591.

A similar composition is found in a drawing by Federico Zuccaro of a design for a wall monument to Ferdinando I de’ Medici, in the collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum, in which a sculpted bust of the Medici cardinal and future Grand Duke is flanked by allegorical female figures representing Hope and Faith. In both pose and style, the two allegorical figures in the Milwaukee drawing are closely paralleled by those in the present sheet, even to the extent that, like both figures in the Milwaukee sheet, the left-hand figure in this drawing is shown with her foot resting on a sphere.

The handwriting on the verso of the present sheet does not appear to be that of Federico Zuccaro himself.

Medium: Pen and brown ink and brown wash
Dimensions: 26.3 x 20 cm (10³/₈ x 7⁷/₈ inches)
Provenance: Anonymous sale, New York, Sotheby’s, 8 January 1991, lot 134
Private collection.

Literature: Cristina Acidini Luchinat, Taddeo e Federico Zuccari: fratelli pittori del Cinquecento, Milan and Rome, 1999, Vol.II, pp.2-4, fig.5, note 7; Edward Olszewski, A Corpus of Drawings in Midwestern Collections: Sixteenth-Century Italian Drawings, Turnhout, 2008, Vol.II, pp.506-507, under no.402.
Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints