Rosso Fiorentino (Italian, Florentine, 1494–1540)
Black chalk, certain contours reinforced in pen and brown ink, background tinted in brown wash
9 1/4 x 7 in. (23.6 X 17.7 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1952 (52.124.2)
Although a later collector identified this bust as a portrait of Giulia Gonzaga, duchess of Mantua, Rosso intended this drawing as an ideal representation of a beautiful young woman. Conceived in the spirit of Michelangelo's teste divine (divine heads) of the 1520s, this mannered figure is dominated by her fantastic coiffure, with numerous braids curled about a pair of horns; her elaborate clothing, with complex patterns of drapery held in place by a brooch; and her alluring gaze. Although certain details were touched with ink and the figure was silhouetted with wash at a later time, the characteristic clarity and precision of the original drawing in chalk are visible. The highly decorative mount was made by the British collector John Talmann.