Watermark: Fragment, three concentric circles.
Janos Scholz believed the drawing to represent a self-portrait by the artist intended as part of the decoration at Castel Buonconsiglio, Trent, ca. 1531. Romanino frescoed several trompe-l’oeil figures framed in oculi and lunettes at Castel Buonconsiglio, so the suggested connection between the drawing and his Trentine work has merit.1 However, figures in illusionistic frames recur in Romanino’s other works, and the Morgan study cannot be linked securely to a painted figure. Indeed, another drawing in the Morgan’s collection by an anonymous draftsman suggests that Romanino’s study may have been made a decade earlier, during his work in Cremona. The anonymous drawing is one of a group of four sheets, formerly in the Cesare da Sesto album, which feature copies of existing works, particularly grotesques.2 On the verso of inv. II, 28a, the draftsman sketched a three-quarter length man in a hat leaning from an oculus whose pose matches that of Romanino’s studies so closely as to suggest it was taken from the present sheet or a further now-lost study by Romanino. At the bottom of the sheet, the anonymous draftsman documented the source of his copies, inscribing, “Cremona in foro”. From 1519 to 1520, Romanino frescoed four scenes as part of a large cycle in Cremona Cathedral depicting the Passion. Before completing further scenes, he was dismissed and replaced by Pordenone, who carried out another four scenes in the Passion cycle. In the arcades beneath three of these, Pordenone frescoed prophets leaning out of oculi. If the inscription on inv. II, 28a is accurate, the present drawing may reflect Romanino’s preparations for a similar figure made before his dismissal.
- See especially Nova 1994, 280-284, no. 61, 62.
- Morgan Library & Museum, New York, inv. II, 28a.
Selected references: London 1960, no. 49; Ferrari 1961, pl. 68; Hamburg and Cologne 1963-64, no. 137; Kossof 1963, 77; Peters 1965, 169; Fellows Report 1989, 374.
Italienische Meisterzeichnungen vom 14. bis zum 18. Jahrhundert aus amerikanischem Besitz : Die Sammlung Janos Scholz, New York. Hamburg : H. Christians, 1963, no. 137.
Ryskamp, Charles, ed. Twenty-First Report to the Fellows of the Pierpont Morgan Library, 1984-1986. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1989, p. 374.
Pordenone, Giovanni Antonio, 1484?-1539, Formerly attributed to.
Calmann, Hans M., former owner.
Scholz, János, former owner.