Both this and inv. 1989.61 are drawn on both sides of the paper and are by the same hand. They entered the collection as anonymous sixteenth-century Sienese school, and it is not clear who proposed their current attribution to the artist and wood-carver Alberto Alberti, father of the more famous Cherubino (1553-1615) and Giovanni (1558-1601). Only in the last few years has Alberto, whose extensive diaries were published in 1914 (Degli Azzi 1914), taken shape as a draftsman, in particular with the publication in 1991 of four codices of drawings, mostly after Roman antiquities (Forni 1991). Already in 1982 Giovanna Maria Forni had published the new attribution of the codices to Alberto instead of to Cherubino and Giovanni Alberti, based on a comparison of the handwriting with that in Alberto’s diaries (Forni 1982). Alberto began sketching Roman antiquities as early as 1547; the codices date from 1570 until the artist’s death in 1598. The blue paper of the Morgan Library sheet is more commonly found among the drawings of the Alberti sons, and the style of draftsmanship is somewhat freer than the more tightly executed drawings in the codices, though close enough to make the attribution plausible enough to be retained. The numbering in the upper right corner of the two Morgan Library drawings suggest that they come from a now dismembered fifth sketchbook.
Both the recto and the verso of this sheet may have been inspired by antique fresco decorations such as existed in the Domus Aurea in the sixteenth century. The design on the verso seems to be for a marble relief attached to a wall, an altar surround, or a piece of furniture to be executed in wood. The motif of the face inscribed in a crescent occurs already in the marble relief decorations framing the altarpiece of the Carafa chapel in Santa Maria sopra Minerva.
Forni 1982, 215-18.
Acquired as Italian, Sienese(?), 16th century.