River God After the Antique (Nile), early 1540s
Inscribed at lower left, in pen and brown ink, with the artist's monogram, Æ.V.
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910
This drawing is after an antique statue found in 1513 near the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome, and subsequently placed in the Belvedere sculpture court in the Vatican by Pope Leo X. Unlike its companion, the Tiber, this colossal marble of the River Nile is still in the Vatican. The small children cavorting on and about the figure of the river god symbolize the fertility brought to the surrounding area by the flooding of the Nile. In combination with the cornucopia, they transform the image into an allegory of fecundity.