Formerly considered to be by Lorenzo Lotto, the drawing was attributed to Paris Bordone by both Michelangelo Muraro and Roger Rearick. It is a touching life study of the head of a sleeping man, with slightly opened mouth, and a thick forked beard. The candid naturalism, conditioned by a gentle pathos, shows Bordone in an unusually concentrated study of the model. The artist was still strongly influenced by Titian’s chalk style, to whom indeed the sheet was once ascribed, as witnessed by the old inscription. Rearick has dated it on grounds of style to rather early in artist’s career, suggesting a date close to 1533.
The study may have been part of the preparation of several paintings and frescoes by Bordone which include sleeping figures. These include his fresco of the Last Supper in the church of San Simon, Vallada (Belluno), and the painting of the same subject in S. Giovanni in Bragora, Venice, painted toward the end of his career, in both of which St. John rests his head on Christ’s shoulder. The study may also have been used for a sleeping St. Joseph as appears to the right of the Virgin and Child in the Rest on the Flight into Egypt, formerly Northwick Park and sold at auction in 1975 (London, Christie’s, 14 March 1975, lot 110).
Oakland and elsewhere 1959, no. 30; New York 1960; Staten Island 1961, no. 10; Hamburg and Cologne 1963-64, no. 88; New Haven 1964, no. 38; London and elsewhere 1968, no. 55; New York 1971, no. 51; Norton 1971, no. 14; Washington and New York 1973-74, no. 96; Scholz 1976, no. 30; Olszewski 1981, no. 115; Fellows Report 1984, 273; Rearick 1987 (b), 50-51, no. 5; Rearick 2001, 85.
Strip added at right.
Formerly attributed to Lorenzo Lotto, 1480?-1556?