Inscribed on verso, at lower center, in pen and brown ink, "Salviati"; in graphite, "m. heemskerck"; on fragment of old mount, pasted onto current mount, inscribed in pen and brown ink by Jonathan Richardson Jr., "Baccio Bandinelli / Il suo Ritratto / N. There was written upon an Old Pasting of this Drawing, in a good Ancient Hand, that it was / the Portrait of Baccio Bandinelli by / Martin Heimskirk; which is not unlikely, He being in / Italy in the time of Baccio, & of the Age of the Portrait; which is evidently Baccio's as ap / pear by That of Giorgio Vasari's Life of him (Baccio 1487...1559. Heimskirk 1498...1574). / It hath also been said to be of Cecchino Salviati; which may very well be too, He being ac- / tually of the School of Baccio, & of a Time that agrees (1507...1563). This name is now / on the back, & it is in his Stile of Finishing".
Best known for his expansive fresco decorations, including the Sala dell’Udienza in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence (1543–45), and the Palazzo Farnese, Rome (begun ca. 1552), Salviati also painted altarpieces, portraits, and smaller-scale cabinet paintings. He was a consummate and prolific draftsman, producing exceptionally spirited studies in pen and ink and refined designs in red chalk. More unusual is his work in black chalk, of which this impressive, carefully rendered patriarchal head is a magnificent example. Depicted slightly from below, the face is marked by a stern expression and furrowed brow. The semicircular sweep of drapery around the shoulders and the high degree of descriptive detail are reminiscent of antique Roman portrait busts, which the artist could have encountered in Rome and Florence.
The specificity of the facial features, such as the forked beard, the repeated folds of flesh around the eyes, and the mole near the nose, have tempted collectors and scholars alike to identify the drawing as a portrait of one of the artist’s contemporaries. In a note taken from the old mount, the former owner Jonathan Richardson observed that according to an inscription formerly pasted to the drawing, it represents Baccio Bandinelli, Salviati’s master from around 1524 to 1526 and a fellow artist employed at the Medici court (see I, 6c). Known likenesses of Bandinelli, such as his self-portrait in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, represent him with a forked beard, but the resemblance is not entirely convincing.1 A plausible and intriguing suggestion made by Wendy Thompson in 2008 is that the sitter could be the Florentine author Giovanni Battista Gelli (1498–1563), who is known to have been drawn by Salviati at least once, and, in another instance, is depicted with a mole on his right cheek.2 Again, however, comparisons with known images of Gelli remain inconclusive. Instead, the present drawing likely was created as an ideal head or character study to be used as the need arose rather than as a contemporary portrait.
The almost northern European realism of the image resulted in previous erroneous attributions to Maarten van Heemskerck3 and Melchior Lorck.4 Nevertheless, the sheet’s blend of Michelangelesque grandeur with the decorative tendencies of Mannerism—apparent in such details as the ornamental curls and free strands of hair—is entirely characteristic of Salviati’s work and indeed recurs almost identically in several of the artist’s paintings and frescoes. Most striking perhaps is the resemblance to an Apostle directly behind Christ in the 1547 Incredulity of St. Thomas in the Musée du Louvre5 as well as to the soldier holding the papal banner at far right of the fresco Ranuccio Farnese Receiving the Baton of the Church in the Sala dei Fasti Farnesiani, Palazzo Farnese, Rome.6 In both, the correspondence is almost exact and includes the shape and angle of the turned head, the sideways direction of the piercing gaze, and the small mole beneath the right eye. Other closely related heads appear in St. John the Almoner in Santa Maria dell’Anima (ca. 1550); the Wedding Feast at Cana in San Salvatore in Lauro (ca. 1551–52); and the Death of Absalom in Palazzo Ricci-Sacchetti, Rome (ca. 1553–54).7 Presumably the drawing was executed ca. 1547, when the head first appears in a painting.
- The Gardner self-portrait is dated to ca. 1545; for the most recent discussion, see Boston 2014, no. 28.
- E-mail, 2008, referring to an engraving by Enea Vico of Gelli showing him with a mole on his right cheek; see Thompson 2007, 228. See also a 1546 woodcut after a lost design by Salviati (Thompson 2007, 228). Both prints show the sitter in three-quarter profile turned to the right, rather than almost frontally as in the Morgan study.
- Mentioned in Jonathan Richardson’s inscription.
- Benesch 1952, passim.
- Rome and Paris 1998, no. 36.
- Strinati and Walter 1995, figs. 1 and 13.
- Mortari 1984, 396; Rome and Paris 1998, no. 20
Rhoda Eitel-Porter and and John Marciari, Italian Renaissance Drawings at the Morgan Library & Museum, New York, 2019, no. 94.
Selected references: Benesch 1952, 244-48 (as attributed to Melchior Lorch); Baltimore 1961, no. 69; Cheney 1963, 2:531; New York 1965-66, no. 102; Vitzthum 1966, 110; Bussmann 1969, 67-68; Stockholm 1970, no. 36; Ragghianti Collobi 1971, 62; Cheney 1981, no. 4; New York 1981, no. 23; Mortari 1992, no. 406; Rome and Paris 1998, no. 91; Forlani Tempesti 2001, 538n25; Munich 2008-9, no. 16.
Collection J. Pierpont Morgan : Drawings by the Old Masters Formed by C. Fairfax Murray. London : Privately printed, 1905-1912, I, 6b.
Stampfle, Felice, and Jacob Bean. Drawings from New York collections. I: The Italian Renaissance. New York : Metropolitan Museum of Art : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1965, no. pp. 63-64, no. 102, repr.
100 Master drawings from the Morgan Library & Museum. München : Hirmer, 2008, no. 16, repr. [Rhoda Eitel-Porter]
Formerly attributed to Baccio Bandinelli and Anonymous Italian School, 16th century from Florentine.
Bandinelli, Baccio, 1493-1560, Formerly attributed to.
Anonymous, Italian School, 16th cent, Formerly attributed to.
Richardson, Jonathan, 1694-1771, former owner.
Cosway, Richard, 1740-1821, former owner.
Crawley-Boevey, Thomas H., 1837-1912, former owner.
Murray, Charles Fairfax, 1849-1919, former owner.
Morgan, J. Pierpont (John Pierpont), 1837-1913, former owner.
Morgan, J. P. (John Pierpont), 1867-1943, former owner.