This preparatory drawing depicts the front saddle steel of one of the most lavishly decorated armor garnitures of the sixteenth century, made for Alessandro Farnese (1545–1592), duke of Parma and Piacenza. The complete armor for man and horse is in the Hofjagd- und Rüstkammer (Court Hunting Cabinet and Armory) of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. It was made by the Milanese armorer and goldsmith Lucio Piccinino about 1575–80.
The exuberantly detailed Mannerist ornament represented in the lifesize drawing was rendered on the armor by low-relief embossing, with the principal figures silvered, the ornamental enframements gilt, damascened in gold, and the background blued to create an overall spatial and coloristic effect of amazing richness. Other designs for the various parts of the Farnese armor, of which this drawing is among the finest, are now dispersed among public and private collections in the United States and Europe. Preparatory drawings for armor are exceptionally rare. The only examples comparable to the Farnese group in scope and quality are the sketches by Albrecht Dürer for a silvered armor commissioned by Emperor Maximilian I in about 1515, and an extensive series by Étienne Delaune and other court artists made for the Valois kings of France between 1545 and 1570.
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Title:Design for the Pommel Plate of a Saddle from a Garniture of Alessandro Farnese (1545–1592)
Designer:Andrea Casalini (Italian, Parma, died 1597)
Medium:Pen and brown ink, with color washes, on paper
Dimensions:19 1/2 x 16 3/8 in. (49.5 x 39.2 cm)
Classification:Works on Paper-Drawings
Credit Line:Purchase, Fletcher Fund and Gift of William H. Riggs, by exchange, 1993
[Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox Ltd., London, until 1993; sold to MMA].
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Drawings and Prints. "Rotation of prints, drawings, and illustrated books from the Museum's permanent collection," December 13, 1993–February 14, 1994.
Lugano, Switzerland. Museo Cantonale d'Arte. "Rabisch: The Grotesque and Profane in Milanese Art, 1550–1600," March 28–June 21, 1998, no. 104.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Arms and Armor: Notable Acquisitions 1991–2002," September 4, 2002–January 18, 2004, no. 11.
Geneva. Musée Rath, Musées d'Art et d'Histoire de Genève. "Parures Triomphales. Le Maniérisme dans l'Art de l'Armure Italienne," March 20–July 20, 2003, no. 76e.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Philippe de Montebello Years: Curators Celebrate Three Decades of Acquisitions," October 24, 2008–February 1, 2009.
Ivanoff, Nicola. "Un Ignoto Codice Resta." Emporium, Rivista Mensile d'Arte e di Cultura (April 1963), pp. 168–170 (discusses the origin of the album from which this drawing apparently comes).
Caviggioli, G.A. Catalogue de l'Exposition de Dessins Italiens du XVe au XVIII s. de la Collection H. De Marignane: Exposition 29 Mai–4 Juin 1966, Palais des Congrès, Monte-Carlo. Monte-Carlo: Palais des congrès, 1966. pp. 11–14 (provenance of the Borghese Album discussed).
Bora, Giulio. I Disegni del Codice Resta. Milan: Silvana, 1978. (in reference to Sebastiano Resta, who assembled the albums from which this drawing may have come, and the one extant Resta album).
La Rocca, Donald J., and Stuart W. Pyhrr. "Renaissance and Baroque Europe." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (Autumn 1994), p. 23, ill.
Boccia, Lionello G. "L'Armeria Farnesiana." In I Farnese: Arte e Collezionismo, edited by Nicola Spinosa, and Lucia Fornani Schianchi. Milan: Electa, 1995. pp. 459–61.
Bora, Giulio, Manuela Kahn-Rossi, Francesco Porzio, Giacomo Berra, and Christian Beaufort-Sponton. Rabisch: Il Grottesco nell'Arte del Cinquecento: L'Accademia della Val di Blenio, Lomazzo e l'Ambiente Milanese. Milan: Skira, 1998. pp. 262, 283–84, no. 104, ill.
Pyhrr, Stuart W., Donald J. La Rocca, and Morihiro Ogawa. Arms and Armor: Notable Acquisitions, 1991–2002. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2002. p. 17, no. 11, ill.
Godoy, José-A., and Silvio Leydi. Parures Triomphales: Le Maniérisme dans l'Art de l'Armure Italienne. Milan: 5 Continents, 2003. pp. 294, 481–82, no. 76e, ill.
Pyhrr, Stuart W., Donald J. La Rocca, and Dirk H. Breiding. The Armored Horse in Europe, 1480–1620. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005. p. 20, fig. 13, ill.
La Rocca, Donald J. How to Read European Armor. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2017. pp.123-125, fig. 137.
Scalini, Mario. Le Armi dei Farnese a Torrechiara. Turin: Umberto Allemandi, 2018. p. 33, fig. 33.
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