Male Nude Supporting a Vessel on His Head

Rome After Raphael
January 22 through May 9, 2010

Raphael (1483–1520)
Male Nude Supporting a Vessel on His Head
Pen and brown ink, over traces of metalpoint.
12 3/4 x 5 1/4 inches (323 x 132 mm)
Purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan; acc. no. I, 17

In 1504 Michelangelo's colossal statue of David was unveiled in the Piazza della Signoria, Florence, to universal acclaim and admiration. It inspired Raphael to produce a series of drawings of male nudes, such as the present one. Only one of these drawings—a study of David seen from the back, in the British Museum, London—is, essentially, a literal copy.

The male nude presented here bears a vessel in the manner of an ancient caryatid and also holds the stone with which, according to the biblical account, David slew the giant Goliath. Raphael probably created this study just prior to his departure from Florence for Rome in 1508.