Description & Technical information

The present sheet is a preparatory study for the figure of the Christ Child in Bartolomeo Passarotti’s large altarpiece of The Adoration of the Magi of c.1565-1580, originally in the church of San Pietro and now in the Palazzo Arcivescovile in Bologna. In the painting the Child is seated on the lap of the Virgin, whose lightly sketched hand is visible beneath His arm in this drawing. While the pose of the seated Child is similar in both the drawing and the painting, the angle of His head in the painting differs slightly from that of the main figure in the drawing. Passarotti chose to study the head of the Child in three subsidiary studies on the same sheet, and the final result in the painting is a combination of the head at the lower right of the sheet, and that of the main figure in the drawing. Other preparatory drawings for the painting are in the Teylers Museum in Haarlem and at Christ Church in Oxford.

A similar sheet of studies of heads of putti was sold at auction in London in 19802, while a close comparison may also be made with a study of legs of a nude boy in Uffizi and a drawing of the head of an infant in the Louvre. A more finished pen drawing of a sleeping nude by Passarotti child is also in the Uffizi.

Period:  1400-1600, 16th Century
Origin:  Italy
Medium: Pen, Brown ink, Laid down
Signature: Inscribed platiae(?) at the right centre, and faintly numbered 135 at the lower left.

Dimensions: 41 x 27.2 cm (16¹/₈ x 10³/₄ inches)
Provenance: Lady Violet Crawley
By descent to a private collection, England
Crispian Riley-Smith, North Yorkshire, in 2006
Private collection, USA.

Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints