Artist: Giorgio Vasari (Italian, Arezzo 1511–1574 Florence)
Medium: Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, over traces of red chalk
Dimensions: 6 3/4 x 15 7/16in. (17.2 x 39.2cm)
Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1971
Accession Number: 1971.273
The drawing, surely from the hand of Vasari himself, is a study for an Allegory of Earth painted by his assistant Cristofano Gherardi in the Sala degli Elementi, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. There are a number of differences between the preparatory drawing and the finished fresco. Vasari supplied a full description of the complex symbolism of this allegorical composition that is dominated by the figure of Saturn holding up a serpent that bites its own tail. This circular symbol is said to be an Egyptian hieroglyph, symbolic of the rotundity of the heavens among other things.