Giorgio Vasari (Italian, 1511–1574)
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, over traces of red chalk
6 3/4 x 15 3/8 in. (17.1 X 39.2 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1971 (1971.273)
The drawing, surely from the hand of Vasari himself, is a study for an Allegory of Earth painted by his assistant Cristofano Gherardi in the Sala degli Elementi, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. There are a number of differences between the preparatory drawing and the finished fresco. Vasari supplied a full description of the complex symbolism of this allegorical composition that is dominated by the figure of Saturn holding up a serpent that bites its own tail. This circular symbol is said to be an Egyptian hieroglyph, symbolic of the rotundity of the heavens among other things.