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Attributed to Giorgio Vasari
by David McTavish
| 3 | 4
1 First published in 1550, Le Vite de' più eccellenti pittort, scultori
et architettori was brought out again in a vastly expanded edition
in 1568. AlI references here are to Giorgio Vasari, Le Vite de' più
eccellenti pittori, ed. by G. Milanesi (9 vols; Florence: 1878-1885).
(Hereafter cited as Le Vite.)
2 Following the pioneering article by Otto Kurz, "Giorgio Vasari's 'Libro de'
Disegni,' " Old Master Drawings, XII (1937), pp. 1-15,
32-44, Vasari's collection of drawings has now been exhaustively studied
by Licia Ragghianti Collobi, Il Libro de' Disegni del Vasari (2 vols; Florence:
3 See Catherine Monbeig-Goguel, hlventaire Général
des dessins italiens, I, Vasari et son temps (Paris: Louvre, 1972),
pp. 147 If.
4 No. 9841. A. E. Popham and K. M. Fenwick, European Drawings in the
Collection of the National Gallery of Canada (Toronto: University of
Toronto Press, 1965), p. 18, cat. no. 24. A third drawing attributed to Vasari, a well-known study for the Sala di Cosimo I in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, also belongs to the National Gallery
(ibid., cat. no. 23, repr.).
5 Ibid., cat. no. 24.
6 No. 08.227.10. Attributed to Federico Zuccaro. The unconvincing
attribution to Federico Zuccaro has already been rejected by James Byam
Shaw, Drawings by Old Masters at Christ Church, Oxford (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1976), no.163.
7 Collection Dott. Ing. Giacomo Bargellesi, Milan. On the verso of
the drawing there is a sketch of a horse.
8 Acts 12:6ff. St Peter is said to have been sleeping between two
soldiers; yet only one appears in the drawings under discussion (with
the exception of the Milan drawing), and even he is located outside St
Peter's prison cell.
9 Inv. 0147. Byam Shaw has classified the drawing as "after Vasari," (op. cit.,
no.163). The most notable
difference between the drawing
at Christ Church and the one in New York involves the figure of St Peter. In the Christ Church drawing St Peter rests his head on his hand, whereas
in the New York drawing both his hands appear to be held in his lap.
And as is the case with the drawing in Ottawa, the drawing at Christ Church
Shows a more intimate relationship between St Peter and the angel than
does the New York sheet.
10 Byam Shaw, loc. cit., no. 163.
11 Details that specifically suggest the drawings are copies
include the summary treatment of the angel's wing at the extreme right
of the Christ Church drawing, and the fact that in the Ottawa drawing the
angel's left wing does not extend below the head at all.
12 For Vasari's autobiography see Le Vite, vol. VII,
pp. 649-724; for his record book, his ricordanze, see Karl Frey,
Der literarische Nachlass Giorgio Vasari (Munich, 1930), vol. II,
pp. 847-882, or Il Libro delle Ricordanze di Giorgio Vasari, ed.
by Alessandro del Vita (Rome, 1938). There is one exception: in an addendum
to Vasari's ricordanze, made by his nephew Marcantonio di Ser Pietro
Vasari, there is mention of "una tavola nelle monache di San Benedetto [in
Perugia] entrovi la storia di San Piero in prigione, quale gli
feciono fare i monaci neri di d(etto) ordine"; for which
see Frey, op. cit., vol. II, p. 884, and del Vita, op. cit.,
p. 108. But the entry is dated 1568, a time surely much too late for
the style of the Ottawa and Christ Church drawings. The painting is listed
as lost by Paola BaroCchi, "Complementi al Vasari Pittore," Atti
e Memorie dell' Accademia Toscana di Scienze e Lettere, XXVIII,
ser. XIV (1963-1964), p. 307.
13 It is always possible that the four drawings are after another
drawing and not a painting; but, since the technique of the four drawings
is so different, such a proposal seems highly unlikely. An exception might
be made in the case of the drawing in Milan, where the design departs most
conspicuously from the other examples.
14 Le Vite, vol. VII, pp. 662-663.
15 Ibid., p. 654. For a list of some of Vasari's drawings after
such artists as Michelangelo and Raphael, see Monbeig-Goguel, op. cit.,
16 Le Vite, vol. v, p. 146. Vasari claims that Polidoro painted
these frescoes in collaboration with the still mysterious Maturino: "Lavorarono la facciata di San Pietro in
Vincola, e le storie di San
Pietro in quella con Projèti grandi." For the frescoes of prophets,
see Rolf Kultzen, "Die Malereien Polidoros an der Fassade von San
Pietro in Vincoli," in Pestschrift Ulrich Middeldorf (Berlin: Walter
de Gruyter, 1968), pp. 263-268; and for the façade in general, see
Alessandro Marabottini, Polidoro da Caravaggio (Rome, 1969), vol.
I, p. 353.
17 It is not known precisely how the frescoes were arranged on the
façade of the church, but it is possible that the two episodes concerning
St Peter in prison were separated by an opening. Martin van Heemskerck,
who in fact shows a minute depiction of the façade in his view of
Rome from the Capitol (repr. in C. Huelsen and H. Egger, Die romischen
Skizzenbücher von Marten van Heemskerk [Berlin, 1913- 1916],
vol. II, pl. 121), seems to have also known the figures of St Peter and
the angel, for they reappear in his design of The Apostles delivered
from Prison by the Angel, engraved by Ph. Galle in 1575.
18 See the comments to this effect made in 1628 by Giulio Mancini, Considerazioni sulla
pittura, ed. by A. Marucchi and L. Salemo
(Rome, 1957), vol. I, p. 311.
19 Cf. Kultzen, op. cit., p. 267, "Die...Petrusgeschichten
an der Fassade von S. Pietro in Vincoli...sind uns übrigens durch
keinerlei Nachbildungen bezeugt." Marabottini, op. cit., vol.
I, pp. 122, 301, 353, vol. II, pl. CXXVII, I, associates a drawing in the
Louvre (Inv. 6071) showing the Crucifixion of St Peter with this façade.
But the attribution of this drawing to Polidoro is doubted by R. Kultzen
in his review of Marabottini's monograph (Art Bulletin, LV [1973[, pl 638);
and Mme Françoise Viatte, in an annotation on the drawing's
mount, has convincingly attributed the sheet to Belisario Corenzio.
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