Italian School

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Italian School
15th century
Head of a Man Wearing a Cap, in Profile to the Left
ca. 1500
Red, white and black chalk, on laid paper.
8 1/8 x 5 15/16 inches (207 x 150 mm)
Gift of János Scholz.

Inscribed on verso, in graphite, across upper center, "cachet; Collection T. L., en creux, en bas centre gauche. (Sir Thomas Lawrence) / cachet: rond [Warwick Stamp]: collection Wauters".

Sir Thomas Lawrence, London (1769-1830) (Lugt 2445; probably his sale, London, Christie's, 4-8 June 1860, lot 70, bought by Colnaghi); George Guy Greville, fourth Earl of Warwick (1818-1893), Warwick Castle (Lugt 2600); Hans M. Calmann (1899-1982), London (dealer's catalogue, London, 1961, no. 2 repr. as Francesco Bonsignori), from whom purchased in 1961 by Janos Scholz (1903-1993), New York (see Lugt Suppl. 2933b).

This likeness is of a middle-aged man in profile view, following antique precedents such as coins and medals. The flat, unadorned hat was common in the late fifteenth century and points to a date of around 1500. The drawing is characterized by simplified geometrical forms, the simplification of the outline, as can be seen with the folds of skin at the neck.

In the Lawrence sale of 1860, the drawing was called Giovanni Bellini, but by 1961, when Hans Calmann sold the drawing to Janos Scholz, it was given to Francesco Bonsignori and has appeared in publications since under that name. Recent documentation shows that Bonsignori was already in Mantua by 1477 where he probably soon entered the workshop of Mantegna; he joined the service of the Gonzaga family in Mantua around 1490. Vasari stated that he could fashion likenesses expertly, and that Marchese Francesco Gonzaga commissioned from Bonsignori portraits of himself, his sons and many other family members, which he sent as presents to various princes in Germany and France (Vasari). The drawing differs, however, from a black chalk portrait drawing in the Albertina that is generally accepted as by Francesco Bonsignori, and which was used as a study for an engraving of Adalbertus Gonzaga, the third Marquis of Mantua (Birke and Kertész, 2: inv. 1453). It also differs from a portrait of a man wearing a cap in profile to the left also in the Albertina, drawn in chalk and dark gray wash, also attributed to Francesco Bonsignori (Birke and Kertesz, IV, inv. 17612), and considered the only secure drawing by him (connected as it is to the National Gallery, London painting; NG 736). A drawing also attributed to Bonsignori in the Gray Collection, Chicago, is close to the two Vienna sheets.

In the context of Venetian and Venetic portrait drawings, the red chalk of the present example remains unusual. The medium may suggest that it was made in the wake of Leonardo’s visit to Venice in 1499 which popularized the use of red chalk in the Veneto. The drawing has also been attributed to Amico Aspertini, apparently by Pouncey by 1961, which today seems unlikely.


Hamburg and Cologne 1963-64, no. 20; New Haven 1964, no. 4; New York 1965; Los Angeles and elsewhere 1967-68, no. 8; London 1968, no. 13; Middletown 1969, no. 5; New York 1971, no. 15; Scholz 1976, no. 23; Notre Dame 1980, no. 138; Bloomington and elsewhere 1983-84, no. 3; Fellows Report 1984, 178-79; Vienna and Budapest 1988-89, 29, no. 7.
Scholz 1963-64, no. 20.
Italian Drawings from the Collection of János Scholz. London : Art Council Gallery, 1968, no. 13 (includes previous bibliography and exhibitions).
Italian Master Drawings from the Collection of János Scholz. Middletown, Conn. : Davison Art Center, Wesleyan University, 1969, no. 5.
One Hundred Italian Drawings from the 14th to the 18th Centuries from the János Scholz Collection. New York : New School Art Center, 1971, no. 15, repr.
Scholz, Janos. Italian Master Drawings, 1350-1800, from the János Scholz Collection. New York : Dover, 1976, no. 22, repr.
Scholz, Janos, and Dean A. Porter. János Scholz, Musician and Collector. Notre Dame : Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, 1980, no. 138.
Ryskamp, Charles, ed. Nineteenth Report to the Fellows of the Pierpont Morgan Library, 1978-1980. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1981, p. 178-179.
Scholz 1983-83, p. 178-9.


Watermark: present. No beta.
Formerly attributed to Francesco Bonsignori, attributed to, Verona ca. 1460-1519 Caldiero, near Verona.

Associated names: 

Bonsignori, Francesco, 1455-1519, Formerly attributed to.
Lawrence, Thomas, Sir, 1769-1830, former owner.
Warwick, George Guy Greville, Earl of, 1818-1893, former owner.
Calmann, Hans M., 1899-1982, former owner.
Scholz, János, former owner.

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