Three Standing Figures (recto); Seated Woman and a Male Hermit in Half–Length (verso), ca. 1430–38
Stefano da Verona (Stefano di Giovanni) (Italian, 1374/75–?ca. 1438)
Pen and brown ink, brush with touches of brown wash, over traces of charcoal or black chalk; 11 13/16 x 8 13/16 in. (30 x 22.4 cm)
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1996 (1996.364a,b)
Discovered around the time the Museum acquired it, this rare study—one of very few extant drawings by Stefano da Verona—dates to a period when most Italian artists still worked out their preliminary drawings on the surface of their paintings rather than on paper. It was originally part of a model book or sketchbook; related sheets, similar in size and technique, are in the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, and the Kupferstich-Kabinett, Dresden. The son of a French painter, Stefano da Verona emerged from the International Gothic tradition and worked throughout northern Italy, but only one signed picture by him survives, the Adoration of the Magi (ca. 1435; Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan). The long flowing lines and elegant attenuated figures of the drawing closely resemble the Brera altarpiece and are typical of late works by the artist, while the loose, delicately expressive handling in pen and brush produces a stunningly modern effect. The seated female figure at the left probably is preparatory for a Madonna of Humility, and the male figure with his attributes—staff, bell, and book—is likely a study for the hermit saint Anthony Abbot. The nearly effaced inscription in pen and brown ink in the upper left quadrant, Questo desegno fo de felixo [or felipo], probably refers to an early Veronese collector who owned the drawing.