Circle of Ottaviano Nelli (Italian, Gubbio ca. 1370 – 1444(?) Gubbio)
early 15th century
Brush and brown ink, brown wash, heightened with white, on greenish blue paper.
11 1/8 x 7 3/8 in. (28.2 x 18.8 cm)
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
Not on view
The inscription at the lower left, "Ottaviano," has often been identified as the hand of the sixteenth-century biographer and artist, Giorgio Vasari, and as an indication that the drawing once belonged to his celebrated album of drawings, containing sheets by artists about whom he wrote in his Lives of the Artists. Evidence against this theory is suggested by the fact that Vasari did not write about Ottaviano Nelli, a significant exponent of the international gothic in Umbria. The stark contrast of light and dark tones and the densely packed composition recall the technique of niello, in which an engraved silver plate is inlaid with a black metallic substance.
Inscription: Annotated in pen and brown ink at the lower left (almost illegible): Ottaviano (?)
Henry Oppenheimer, London; Oppenheimer sale 1936, lot 2b.
Licia Ragghianti Collobi. Il libro de' disegni del Vasari. Vol. 2 vols., Florence, 1974, vol. 2, p. 29, p. 9, fig. 18