A Warrior Subduing Another (recto); Warrior Seen in Bust-Length with Fantastic Helmet (verso)

Maso Finiguerra Italian

Not on view

A splendid double-sided page from a small, dismembered sketchbook attributed to Maso Finiguerra was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum in 2002, a work which is more pictorially executed, and is even more unusually closely connected to Antonio del Pollaiuolo himself, than the large core group of Maso's more archaizing drawings of simple outlines (in the Uffizi and elsewhere) accepted by Bernhard Degenhart and Annegrit Schmitt in 1968. Certainly a late drawing by the artist, of 1460-1464 (Maso Finiguerra's heirs owned fourteen albums of the artist's drawings, "inter magnos et parvolos", as is recorded in documents of 1481, 1487, and 1507), the Metropolitan sheet was eminently published by Lorenza Melli in 1995, with a secure attribution to Maso Finiguerra, while it was still in the Martin Bodmer Foundation, Geneva, but the drawing has otherwise escaped serious scholarly notice, even in the most recent literature.

The recto of the Metropolitan sheet offers an exquisitely detailed study of an 'all'antica' composition of Hercules and the Dead Cacus, inspired by the Death of Pentheus relief on a sarcophagus (Camposanto, Pisa); the same composition appears in a drawing of greatly simplified contours (Turin, Biblioteca Reale, inv. 15591), also attributed to Maso Finiguerra, and which is the more widely known version in the literature. In stark contrast to the inert Turin version of the drawing (which is most probably a 'ricordo di bottega' or studio copy, in my opinion), the recently acquired Metropolitan Museum sheet is drawn over an extensive preliminary underdrawing in black chalk -- of exquisitely animated line -- and the verso of the sheet portrays a study of a warrior in bust-length; the design and fierce physiognomic type of this figure are fully Pollaiuolesque, also anticipating the work of Florentine sculptors of nearly a decade later.

(Carmen C. Bambach, 2007)

A Warrior Subduing Another (recto); Warrior Seen in Bust-Length with Fantastic Helmet (verso), Maso Finiguerra (Italian, Florence 1426–1464 Florence), Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, over black chalk or leadpoint (recto and verso)

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