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Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist and Two Putti (recto); Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist and a Putto (verso)

Artist:
Fra Bartolomeo (Bartolomeo di Paolo del Fattorino) (Italian, Florence 1473–1517 Florence)
Date:
1505–6(?)
Medium:
Pen and brown ink, touches of brown wash, heightened with white (partly oxidized), over traces of black chalk, on tinted paper; partial tracing of figures from the verso (recto); Pen and brown ink over black chalk (verso)
Dimensions:
7 3/8 x 6 7/16 in. (18.7 x 16.3 cm)
Classification:
Drawings
Credit Line:
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
Accession Number:
1975.1.271
Not on view
This sheet likely served as an exploratory idea for a composition rather than a preparatory study for a particular painting. This drawing sheds light upon Fra Bartolomeo’s practice of employing wooden models or puppets, revealed in the Virgin’s unarticulated hands and the arm of the Child which is truncated at the wrist. In his biography of the artist, the sixteenth-century biographer Giorgio Vasari stated that "in order to depict draperies and weapons and other such things," Fra Bartolomeo "had a life-sized wooden model made which had movable joints; and this he clothed with real draperies, from which he painted the most beautiful things, being able to keep them in position as long as he wished, until he brought his work to perfection."
Marking: Red ink stains at the lower right.
Conte Ottolini, Lucca; John Postle Heseltine, London (Lugt 1507); Henry Oppenheimer, London; Oppenheimer sale 1936, no. 31, pl. 6. Acquired by Robert Lehman in 1936.
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