The drawing depicts a man turned to the left, but looking over his shoulder to face the viewer, and pointing upward with the index finger of his right hand. The subject appears to be The Tribute Money with Christ answering the Pharisees “Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” according to the Gospels. The subject was common in Venetian painting, compare for instance Titian’s compositionally similar treatment of the subject in the National Gallery, London, probably painted around 1568. In this interpretation the cluster of parallel lines in black chalk at the left of the drawing, beneath Christ’s pointing hand, could well indicate the hand of a Pharisee or an apostle.
It has also been suggested that the drawing represents “il Redentore”, Christ as the Saviour of Mankind, a subject Bordone treated several times in painted form. One version, in which Christ holds a book and blesses with his other hand, is in the Mauritshuis, The Hague; a later one, probably of about 1540-60, in the National Gallery, London; others are in the Accademia Carrara, Bergamo and the Abbey of Polirone. A differing composition is found in a painting of Christ as Saviour in the Louvre, Paris, which was painted over with a portrait dated 1540, and of which a copy exists in the Musée Rolin, Autun (Treviso 1987, 21, no. 22, in which Christs holds a banderole inscribed Pax vobis). The attribution of the drawing to Bordon, however, is far from certain.
Four red marks, one at the center of each edge, probably served as general guidelines for the transfer of the design of the drawing to another surface.
Venice 1957, no. 18; Bloomington 1958, no. 41; Oakland and elsewhere 1959, no. 11; Hagerstown 1960, no. 18; Milwaukee 1964, no. 8; Washington and New York 1973-74, no. 97; Montgomery 1976, no. 18; Olszewski 1981, no. 97; Fellows Report 1984, 238; Rearick 1987(b), 54, no. 11.
Muraro, Michelangelo. Venetian Drawings from the Collection János Scholz. Venice : N. Pozza, 1957, no. 18, repr.
Gilbert, Creighton et al. Drawings of the Italian Renaissance from the Scholz Collection. Bloomington : Indiana University Art Center, 1958, no. 41, repr.
Venetian Drawings from the Collection of János Scholz. Montgomery, Ala. : Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, 1976, no. 18 (includes previous bibliography and exhibitions).
Ryskamp, Charles, ed. Twentieth Report to the Fellows of the Pierpont Morgan Library, 1981-1983. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1984, p. 238.
Moscardo family, former owner.
Calceolari, Marquis de, former owner.
Scholz, János, former owner.