Black chalk; some contours reinforced in pen and brown ink, and background tinted in brown wash (by another hand)
9 5/16 x 6 15/16 in. (23.6 x 17.7 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1952
Not on view
Rosso intended this drawing as an ideal representation of a beautiful young woman, in response to the genre of "teste divine" (divine heads) that Michelangelo made famous in drawings of the 1520s and 1530s, especially the "Zenobia" (Uffizi, Florence). Here, he invented elegant "s" shaped rhythms for the figural pose. The woman is seen in bust-length from the back, her head turned in profile, slightly lowered, to gaze directly at the viewer, while the exquisite complexity of details of her fashionable dress soften her pose with airy curves and twists. Her fantastic coiffure is laden with braids curled around a pair of ram's horns, while her artfully puffed-up dress, with layers of agitated drapery, is fastened on the back with a mask-like brooch. Although minor passages were touched up with ink and the figure was silhouetted with wash at a later time, the characteristic clarity and precision of Rosso's original drawing in chalk are plainly evident. The delicately ornate mount and the pen inscription below, telling the colorful, apocryphal story about the presumed subject of the drawing, are both due to the British collector John Talmann, who incorrectly thought this to be a portrait of Giulia Gonzaga (1513-1566), Contess of Fondi, a famous beauty in her day.
(Carmen C. Bambach)
Signature: Signed in pen and brown ink at upper border, Rosso Fiorentino.
Inscription: Annotated in hand of John Talman (H. MacAndrew Nov. 75) in ink below gold design, da Rosso Fiorentino /Julia Gonzaga / Barbarossa the famous Turkish Pirate attempted to surprize this famous Beauty in order to make a Present of Her / to Solyman ye. Emperour: and for that purpose landed by night 2000 Souldiers near Fundi where she then was; but at ye. / first alarm she mounting a Horse without any clothes but her smock made her Escape; at wch ye Barbarian was / so inraged that he burnt the Town; This Lady was the Widdow of Vespasian Colonna. Thuanus speaks much in her Praise. / Dictionaire de Moreri. Numbered in graphite on lower right corner, 93. Aannotated in ink at upper right, Giulia Gonzaga Duchezz [a] / di Mantoa.
Annotated in graphite on upper center of verso, Le Rosso or Master Roux of Florence 1496/1541 1524. Annotated in pen and brown ink on verso, Rosso Fiorentino / e collectione J. Talman.
Marking: Sir Joshua Reynolds' collector's mark (Lugt 2364) at lower right border on recto; John Fitchett Marsh collector's mark (Lugt 1455) at lower right border below gilt design on recto.
John Talman (British, 1677–1726)(the drawing is pasted on a Talman mount); Sir Joshua Reynolds (British, Plympton 1723–1792 London); John Fitchett Marsh (British, Wigan, Lancashire 1818–1880 Warrington); Hans M. Calmann
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Frits Lugt Les marques de collections de dessins et d'estampes. Marques estampillés et écrites de collections particulières et publiques. Marques de marchands, de monteurs, et d'imprimeurs. Cachets de vente d'artistes décédés. Marques de graveurs apposées.... Amsterdam, 1921, p. 264, no. 1455 (ill. mark of J. Fitchett Marsh), p. 441, no. 2364 (ill. mark of Sir Joshua Reynolds.).
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