Previously ascribed to Peter Candid, the drawing was first attributed to Vasari by Christel Thiem (unpublished letter, 16 April 1988), who believed it to depict the Goddess Ops and connected it to the Sala di Opi in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. The connection to the Palazzo Almeni frescoes is due to Charles Davis. In the late 1970s, Davis discovered and subsequently published the frescoes in the Florentine townhouse of Sforza Almeni, courtier to Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici who stabbed him to death in 1566.1 In the October 1988 issue of Apollo, Galerie Sabrina Förster featured the drawing (as Vasari) in an advertisement and, in response; Davis wrote Förster informing her of the connection between the sheet and the ceiling compartment (unpublished letter, 11 November 1988).2
The ceiling, along with the now-lost façade, was designed by Vasari following the iconographic advice of Cosimo Bartoli (1503-1572), and predominantly painted by Cristoforo Gherardi (1508-1556), ca. 1554-1556. Vasari includes a lengthy description of the façade in Gherardi’s Vita, with no mention of the ceiling frescoes.3 However, as Philip J. Jacks showed, they are mentioned in a draft of Vasari’s Ricordanze in the Beinecke Library at Yale University, which records them as completed before 15 June 1557.4 Vasari’s Zibaldone, the notebook where he kept notes about the iconographies of figures, contains a clustered group of nine entries, which correspond to the painted allegories on the ceiling.5 The description of Faith describes her as a woman dressed in white, girdled with a rope of strings and wearing a crown of twelve stars – a description that, as Davis noted, derives from Bartoli.6 Both the drawn and painted allegories wear this attribute, though the drawn crown is taller.
Another drawing by Vasari in the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne, in the same technique and also squared, prepares the Allegory of Goodness on the Almeni ceiling.7
- Davis 1980, 127-202.
- For the subsequent sale, see Düsseldorf 1989, 4, no. 1. See also Munich 1997, 110, in which Davis published his attribution.
- Vasari 1878-85, 6: 230-37.
- Jacks 1992, 776.
- Davis 1980, 132-33.
- Fede, una donna vestita di bianco cinta con una corda di minugia, con una corona in testa di dodici stelle. For Vasari’s Zibaldone, see http://www.memofonte.it/home/files/pdf/vasari_Zibaldone.pdf; Davis 1980, 154.
- Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne, inv. Z 1397. See Härb 2015, 485-86, no. 314.
Selected references: Saarbrücken 1997, 55, 58; Munich 1997, 110; Härb 2015, 485-486, no. 315; New York 2019, 59-60.
Preparatory drawing for a ceiling in the Palazzo Almeni, Florence, executed by Vasari and his workshop in the 1550s.