Inscribed at lower right, in pen and brown ink, Mutiano.
Muziano was born in Lombardy and trained in Padua and Venice before moving to Rome in 1549. He was still a young artist then, and his early biographer notes that Muziano spent five more years in study after arriving in Rome. He did not join a workshop to receive traditional training under a single master but rather seems to have studied Rome’s modern masterpieces in association with other young artists and occasionally assisted some more senior painters.1 While some of Muziano’s early drawings reflect his training in the Veneto (see 1979.5),2 Muziano’s draftsmanship became progressively more central Italian, presumably through his exposure to the drawings of other artists. Daniele da Volterra, for example, with whom Muziano worked briefly at the Sala della Cleopatra in the Vatican Palace, seems to have been a particularly strong influence, leading Muziano to drawings that make fine use of red chalk and evince an interest in tonal effects, weighty figures, and voluminous draperies. While correct in their anatomy, Muziano’s figures and draperies are somewhat abstracted from reality, for he had relatively little interest in the life study that characterizes the work of the previous and succeeding generations.3
This sheet fits among a group of similar red chalk studies from the late 1570s and early 1580s. Most of these correspond to the projects in the Vatican that were then Muziano’s primary concern, as he had risen to become the principal painter and general impresario of artistic production under Pope Gregory XIII. Foremost among these projects was the decoration of the Gregorian chapel, the first part of the new Basilica of St. Peter to be decorated. Muziano’s work there, which occurred even before the central dome of the basilica was complete, included the design for mosaics in the dome, pendentives, and lunettes, and two massive altarpieces. Most of the mosaics, however, were later remade; one of the altarpieces is lost, and the other, much damaged, is now at Santa Maria degli Angeli. While many preparatory drawings for the Gregorian chapel survive, it is a complicated matter to determine how the Morgan study fits among that sequence.4
St. Jerome was one of the chapel’s dedicatees, and one of the two altar- pieces would eventually depict St. Jerome Preaching to His Disciples. Drawings in the Uffizi indicate, however, that at an early stage of the project, Muziano considered that subject for one of the pendentives of the dome instead. While there is no indication that the Morgan drawing was made with a pendentive in mind—it lacks the distinctive outline of the pendentive’s triangular form that appears in the earlier Uffizi studies—the figure’s pose is akin to that given to St. Jerome in some of the sketches, as noted by Patrizia Tosini.5 As the project evolved, and the Preaching of St. Jerome became the subject of one of the altarpieces rather than that of a pendentive mosaic, Muziano also experimented with various compositions. Rhoda Eitel-Porter has observed that in some of these drawings, marked by rectangular outlines and clearly for an altarpiece, Jerome is again shown in at least one sketch in a pose akin to the Morgan drawing.6 In the end, the altarpiece situates the saint in a more upright position, one worked out in other highly finished drawings in the series.7 At this stage, however, Muziano may have decided to reuse the rejected Morgan study for the figure of Isaiah in one of the chapel’s lunettes, for the lower part of that figure is extremely close to the drawing.
The dated documents for the chapel complicate matters. While the mosaic cartoons were supposedly supplied between 1578 and 1580, and the altarpieces were not formally commissioned until 1582, the shifting of subjects from the pendentives to the altarpieces suggests that Muziano was considering the entire decorative scheme from the start, such that the Morgan drawing, even if a rejected design for the altarpiece, might still have been used for the lunette mosaics. It seems impossible to be certain of the sequence, but, in any case, the many drawings for the project—more than exist for any other work by Muziano—speak to the particular level of attention he devoted to this most important commission, and the finely hatched drawings of massive figures could not be any more typical of the post-Michelangelo Roman artists of the later cinquecento.
- On Muziano’s early years in Rome, see Marciari 2000, chapter 3. Federico Zuccaro’s series of drawings about the early life of his brother, Taddeo (now in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles) are also worth considering in this context; see Los Angeles 2007.
- See, for example, a double-sided drawing in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, inv. 1949:554 (Marciari 2002, 117–19), as well as his I in a private collection (Ottawa 2009, no. 75).
- On this point, see Marciari 2009.
- For the Gregorian chapel, see Marciari 2000, 424–59; Tosini 2008, 220–32.
- See Tosini 2008, 417–18.
- Eitel-Porter in Ottawa 2009, no. 112.
- See Marciari 2009, 204–9, for the altarpieces and other related drawings.
Rhoda Eitel-Porter and and John Marciari, Italian Renaissance Drawings at the Morgan Library & Museum, New York, 2019, no. 121.
Selected references: Cologne 1963-64, no. 102; Milwaukee 1964, no. 26; New Haven 1964, no. 42; New York 1965-66, no. 124; Colorado Springs 1967, no. IX; Washington and New York 1973-74, no. 4; Fellows Report 19 1981, 206; Marciari 2000, 451, 511; Tosini 2008, 418; Ottawa 2009, no. 112.
Italienische Meisterzeichnungen vom 14. bis zum 18. Jahrhundert aus amerikanischem Besitz: Die Sammlung János Scholz, New York, exh. cat., Kunsthalle, Hamburg, and Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne, 1963-64, no. 102, repr. fig. 51.
Italian Drawings. A loan exhibtion in connection with a symposium to commemorate the 400th Anniversary of the Death of Michelangelo, 1564-1964, exh. cat., Department of Art History Gallery, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, 1964, no. 26, fig. 10.
Konrad Oberhuber and Dean Walker, Sixteenth Century Italian Drawings from the Collection of János Scholz, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, 1973-1974, p. 4, no. 4, repr.
Michelangelo and his World, with Drawings from the British Museum, The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, 1979, no. 33.
John Marciari, Girolamo Muziano and Art in Rome, ca. 1550-1600, Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 2000 (Ann Arbor, 2002), pp. 451, 511.
David Franklin, ed., From Raphael to the Carracci: The Art of Papal Rome, exh. cat., National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 2009, pp. 350-351, no. 112, repr.
Piancastelli, Giovanni, 1845-1926, former owner.
Brandegee, Edward, former owner.
Brandegee, Mary, former owner.
Scholz, János, former owner.