Francesco di Simone Ferrucci (Fiesole 1437-Florence 1493). Madonna and Child. Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash on tan laid paper. 261 x 105 mm, 10 1/4 x 4 5/32 in. Robert Dance, Inc.


Francesco di Simone Ferrucci (Fiesole 1437-Florence 1493)

Madonna and Child

Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash on tan laid paper, 261 x 105 mm, 10 1/4 x 4 5/32 in. Watermark: Key.

This monumental study of the Madonna and Child in a niche closely resembles a group of pages taken from a sketchbook and now divided among the British Museum, the Musée Condé in Chantilly, Berlin, Hamburg, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The pen technique, above all the hatching, and the characteristic forms of the faces, hands, and feet are strikingly similar, as well as the drapery folds. One should also note that the use of wash in this drawing resembles that of Francesco’s drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The present drawing is more finished than the sketchbook pages, and larger in scale, and it is therefore probably a ricordo of a sculpture or perhaps a study for a finished work. Both types of drawing would show close attention to details of contour and surface, as in this sheet.

Caroline Lanfranc de Panthou in her discussion of the eight sketchbook pages at Chantilly, gives a comprehensive summary of the problems surrounding the attribution. Francesco di Simone Ferrucci should be considered securely the author of the drawings, not because of the circumstantial arguments of earlier scholars, but because of the connection established by Sirèn between a drawing in Stockholm and Francesco’s tomb for Alessandro Tartagni (1479-80) in the Church of San Domenico at Bologna, his only signed work.

Vasari mentions Francesco di Simone in his life of Verrochio as a pupil of the master. Since they were almost the same age, he has been described as more of an assistant. The Tartagni monument suggests that his style may already have been substantially formed by Desiderio da Settignano before he came under the influence of Verrocchio. In any case the sketchbook pages constitute an encyclopedic view of sculptural forms and gestures current in Central Italy in the late 1480’s, executed in a lively and charming pen style.


Provenance: Sir. J. C. Robinson (Lugt 1433); John Malcolm of Poltalloch; The Hon. A. E. Gathorne-Hardy; Geoffrey Gathorne-Hardy; The Hon. Robert Gathorne-Hardy, his sale, London, Sotheby’s, 24 November 1976, lot 3 (as Sienese School).



Exhibited: London, P. & D. Colnaghi and the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Loan Exhibition of Drawings by Old Master from the Collection of Mr. Geoffrey Gathorne-Hardy, 1971-72, no. 11 (as unkown).

Literature: Descriptive Catalogue of Drawings by the Old Masters in the Possession of the Hon. A. E. Gathorne-Hardy, 1902, p. 27, no. 47 (as unkown); Bernard Berenson, I disegni dei pittori fiorentini, Milan, 1961, vol. II, no. 2737 (as Giovanni Antonio Sogliani); Bernard Berenson, The Drawings of the Florentine Painters, 1938, vol. II, no. 2737; Bernard Berenson, The Drawings of the Florentine Painters, 1903, vol. II, no. 2737

Related Literature: Dessins italiens du musée Condé à Chantilly, I, Autour du Pérugin, Filippino Lippi, et Michel-Ange, exh. cat. Chantilly, 1995; pp. 48-73; Annamaria Petrioli Tofani, Il disegno fiorentino del tempo di Lorenzo il Magnifico, exh. cat. Florence, Uffizi, Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe, 8 April-5 July 1992, pp. 240-243, nos. 12.1-12.3; Jacob Bean with the assistance of Lawrence Turcic, 15th and 16th Century Italian Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1982, pp. 93f., no. 82; Peter Ward-Jackson, Italian Drawings, Volume One, 14th-16th Century, Victoria and Albert Museum Catalogues, London, 1979, pp. 13-15, nos. 2-4; Emmanuelle Brugerolles, De Michel-Ange à Géricault, Dessins de la Donation Armand-Valton, exh. cat., Paris, 1982, pp. 86ff., no. 43; Otto Kurz, "A Group of Florentine Drawings for an Altar," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, XVIII (1955), pp. 35-53; A. E. Popham and Philip Pouncey, Italian Drawings in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum, The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, London, 1950, pp. 38-40, nos. 56 and 57, Plates LIV-LVII.