Inscribed at lower right in pen and brown ink: "del amateo"; on verso, at lower center in black chalk: "Pomponio di Girolamo del Amalteo"; at lower left, "51" (encircled); beneath this, in graphite: "formerly in Cosway Colln"; beneath this, in pen and brown ink, by Esdaile, "1831 WE 10x 62."; at lower right in pen and brown ink, "Pomponio Amaltas Fresla (?)/ Disc.o Geniro(?) del Pordenone / con(?) il suo fratello Girola[mo?]".
The present drawing bears an old attribution to Pomponio Amalteo in the lower right corner, which has been unanimously accepted by modern scholarship. The drawing is close, in reverse, to Amalteo’s fresco of around 1535 on the right wall of the nave in the Oratory of Santa Maria dei Battuti in San Vito al Tagliamento, Friuli (Cohen 1975, fig. 36), and could be a study for this fresco. Particularly striking are the similarities of the figure leading the ass, and the Virgin and Child in the drawing to the corresponding figures in the San Vito fresco.
The composition of the Morgan drawing was re-used for a much later altarpiece for the same subject in the chapel of the Montereale-Mantica family in the Cathedral at Pordenone (Cohen 1980, 124-25), which Amalteo was working on in around 1556. However, the poses of the figures have been altered and the composition significantly elaborated to the degree that if connected, the Morgan sheet must represent a very early stage in the painting’s development.
The verso of the sheet shows four studies, in black chalk, one of which – at lower center – is a rather uncertain study for the Virgin and Child on the recto. Both recto and verso show Amalteo working in a looser and more experimental mode than the other double-sided sheet by the artist in the Morgan Library collection (No. [1982.25]).
Tietze and Tietze-Conrat 1944, 1: 35, no. 23; 2: pl. XCV, no. 1; Popham and Wilde 1950, 301, no. 745; New York 1965-66, 62, no. 99; Cohen 1973, 253-54, figs. 9 and 10; Menomonie 1973-74; Cohen 1975, 54-56, figs. 35 and 37; Furlan 1975, 16-17, fig. 17 (recto); Furlan 1976, 246; Pordenone 1980, 74, fig. 3 (verso); Cohen 1980, 36, 78, fig. 149 (verso); Furlan 1993, 265, fig. 59 (recto); Furlan 1998, 280, no. D45; Pordenone 2000, 132-33, no. 25; Jacoby 2014, 251.
Collection J. Pierpont Morgan : Drawings by the Old Masters Formed by C. Fairfax Murray. London : Privately printed, 1905-1912, IV, 70.
The composition of this drawing was re-used for a much later altarpiece for the same subject in the chapel of the Montereale-Mantica family in the Cathedral at Pordenone, which Amalteo was working on around 1556.
Richardson, Jonathan, 1694-1771, former owner.
Cosway, Richard, 1740-1821, former owner.
Esdaile, William, 1758-1837, former owner.
Thane, Thomas, 1782-1846, former owner.
Robinson, J. C. (John Charles), Sir, 1824-1913
Murray, Charles Fairfax, 1849-1919, former owner.
Morgan, J. Pierpont (John Pierpont), 1837-1913, former owner.