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)
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Medium:Black chalk (Rosso Fiorentino). Probably another hand reinforced minute passages with pen and brown ink, adding also a tiny area of crosshatching within the hair arrangements. An early owner of the drawing (or an artist working for him) colored the background around the figure in brush and brown wash.
Dimensions:9 5/16 x 6 15/16 in. (23.6 x 17.7 cm)
Credit Line:Rogers Fund, 1952
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)(the drawing is pasted on a Talman mount); Sir Joshua Reynolds (British); John Fitchett Marsh; Hans M. Calmann (British)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Italian Renaissance Drawings from New York Collections," November 9, 1965–January 9, 1966.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "15th and 16th Century Italian Drawings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," February 16–April 17, 1983.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," August 21–November 26, 1995.
Saarland Museum, Saarbrücken, Germany. "Zeichnungen aus der Toskana: Das Zeitalter Michelangelos," September 29, 1997–November 23, 1997.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," February 8–May 3, 1999.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," January 9–April 6, 2006.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," January 12–April 12, 2009.
Morgan Library & Museum, New York. "Fantasy and Invention: Rosso Fiorentino and Sixteenth-Century Florentine Drawing," November 16, 2012–February 3, 2013.
Frankfurt. Städel Museum. "Maniera: Pontormo, Bronzino and Medici Florence," February 24–June 5, 2016.
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.).
Jacob Bean, Felice Stampfle Drawings from New York Collections, Vol. I: The Italian Renaissance. Exh. cat. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1965, p. 53, no. 77, ill.
"Mostre a New York" in Sele Arte. Sele Arte Magazine, vol. 13, nos. 77-78, January-June,. 1966, nos. 77-78, p. 103, no. 168, ill.
Walter Vitzthum "Current and Forthcoming Exhibitions: Drawings from New York Collections." The Burlington Magazine. 108, (Feb. 1966),. London, 1966, p. 110, pl. 60 (as 'Contessa di Fondi'), ill.
Eugene A. Carroll The Drawings of Rosso Fiorentino. vols. 1, 2, New York and London, 1976, Vol. 1, pp. 172-176; Vol. 2, pp. 271-276, no. D 25, fig. 81, reproduced with Talman mount.
Hair. Exh. cat. Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution, New York, 1980, p. 4, repr.
Edward J. Olszewski, Jane Glaubinger The Draftsman's Eye: Late Italian Renaissance Schools and Styles. Exh. cat., Cleveland Museum of Art. March 6 - April 22, 1979. Cleveland, 1981, cat. no. no. 25, pp. 6-7,13,18,26.
Jacob Bean, Lawrence Turčić 15th and 16th Century Italian Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1982, cat. no. 226, fig. no. 226, p. 227, ill.
Rosso Fiorentino: Drawings, Prints, and Decorative Arts. Exh. cat., Oct. 25,1987-Jan. 3,1988. edited by Jane Sweeney, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., Washington, D.C., 1987, cat. no. 50, pp. 148-149, ill.
Patrick Ramade Disegno: Dessins italiens du Musée de Rennes. Calogue de l’exposition suivi d’un inventaire de la collection Exh. cat., Museo e Galleria Estense, Modena and Musée des Beaux-Arts et d’Archéologie, Rennes. Rennes, 1990, p. 84, under no. 36 (entry by Philippe Costamagna).
Philippe Costamagna "L'é d'après les maîtres et le rôle dans la formation des artistes à Florence au XVIe siècle." Disegno: Acts du Colloque du Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes (9 et 10 novembre 1990). Rennes, 1991, pp. 54, 60n, fig. 7.
David Franklin Rosso in Italy: The Italian Career of Rosso Fiorentino. New Haven and London, 1994, pp. 196-97, fig. 154.
Alessandra Giovannetti Francesco Morandini detto il Poppi. Florence, 1995, p. 218, under cat. D27.
Alexander Perrig, Ernst-Gerhard Güse Zeichnungen aus der Toskana: Das Zeitalter Michelangelos Exh. cat. Saarland, Museum Saarbrücken. Munich and New York, 1997, p. 228, fig. 3, under cat. 79 (entry by Ernst-Gerhard Güse).
Giancarlo Fiorenza "Penelope's Web: Francesco Primaticcio's Epic Revision at Fontainebleau." Renaissance Quarterly. vol. 59, 2006,. 2006, pp. 823-24, fig. 13.
Cinzia Maria Sicca "The Making and Unraveling of John Talman's Collection of Drawings." John Talman. An Early-Eighteenth-Century Connoisseur. New Haven and London, 2008, pp. 16-17, fig. 6.
Maniera: Pontormo, Bronzino and Medici Florence Exh. cat. Frankfurt, Städel Museum. Ed. by Bastian Eclercy, Munich, London and New York, 2016, pp. 176-77, no. 72 (entry by Linda Wolk-Simon).
Tarnya Cooper, Charlotte Bolland The Encounter: Drawings from Leonardo to Rembrandt. Exh. cat., National Portrait Gallery, London, 13 July to 22 October. 2017, fig. no. fig. 19, pp. 45-46.
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