Artist: Baldassarre Franceschini (il Volterrano) (Italian, Volterra 1611–1690 Florence)
Date: ca. 1550
Medium: Black chalk, highlighted with white, on blue-green paper, deckled edges. Glued onto secondary paper support
Dimensions: 15 5/16 x 10 3/8 in. (38.9 x 26.3 cm), max.
Credit Line: Gift of Margot and Leonard Gordon, 1996
Accession Number: 1996.142.3
This animated study was drawn in preparation for the figure of Saint John the Evangelist in Franceschini's vault fresco of the Coronation of the Virgin in the Niccolini Chapel of Santa Croce, Florence, executed between 1652 and 1660.Commissioned by the Marchese Filippo Niccolini, this important project also included frescoes of the sibyls on the pendentives, and was regarded as one of the artist's masterpieces by his contemporaries, rivalling the work of Correggio and Giovanni Lanfranco. It was carefully described by Volterrano's earliest biographer, Filippo Baldinucci, in 1681. This drawing illustrates the diligent process by which the artist studied the foreshortened poses of the numerous figures in the composition from living nude models. Drawings such as this enabled Franceschini to paint perspectivally complex frescoes, for which he was much admired during his lifetime. Here the rapidly drawn sketch defines the pose and sets the figure in space, corrected for the anticipated vantage point of the viewer.