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Sketches of Figures of the Virgin Kneeling, Saint Peter Standing, Seated Allegorical Figures of Faith and Charity, and Child Standing on a Corbel (?) (recto); Sketches of Figures of Saint Sebastian Standing and the Virgin and Child with Angels (verso)

Sketches of Figures of the Virgin Kneeling, Saint Peter Standing, Seated Allegorical Figures of Faith and Charity, and Child Standing on a Corbel (?) (recto); Sketches of Figures of Saint Sebastian Standing and the Virgin and Child with Angels (verso)

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To judge from the drawing style and subject matter, Ferrucci was strongly influenced by the Florentine sculptor Andrea Verrocchio (1435–1488). Although he was trained by his father, Ferrucci may have been Verrocchio's assistant in the 1470s; Verrocchio's workshop offered a training ground for many of the brilliant draftsmen of late-fifteenth-century Florence. This drawing once formed part of the sketchbook formerly attributed to Verrocchio himself: the great nineteenth-century art historian and connoisseur Giovanni Morelli was the first to propose the name of Francesco di Simone, and this attribution has been generally accepted by later scholars.This boldly drawn double-sided sheet is part of a well-known dismembered Florentine sketchbook (now dispersed in a variety of collections) that apparently records sculptural models, most of which can be associated with the style of Andrea del Verrocchio's workshop. It also includes, however, motifs inspired by the work of such other Florentine sculptors as Antonio del Pollaiuolo, Benedetto da Maiano, Desiderio da Settignano, Luca della Robbia, and Bernardo Rossellino. This and nineteen other pages of the sketchbook are currently known, all of a similar size and drawing technique on rose-washed paper, and at least nine of these bear the same watermark (a Gothic M). The codicological evidence has been examined with particular attention by Albert J. Elen. Like catalogue number 8, most of the sheets are also drawn on both sides and bear inscriptions of many types, from dates to debit accounts to the names of individuals. The following collections own pages of this sketchbook: the Musée Condé, Chantilly (eight); Musée du Louvre, Paris (three); École des Beaux-Arts, Paris (two); British Museum, London (two); Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin (one); Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon (one); Hamburger Kunsthalle (one). An additional sheet was last recorded in a private collection in 1983.1 Two of the Chantilly sheets (21[15]; 22[16]) bear the date 1487, while one of the sheets in the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris (374 v), bears the date 1488.To judge from the very eclectic choices of sculptural motifs and styles, the sketchbook may have served as a visual record or sourcebook for the use of a modestly talented sculptor, or even a sculptor's apprentice. (Similar motifs are sometimes naively repeated in page after page of the sketchbook.) About 1850, when the sketchbook seems to have gotten noticed by scholars, it was ascribed to Andrea del Verrocchio himself, since his name is inscribed on one of the sheets used for the purpose of settling an account, and thus it became nicknamed the Verrocchio Sketchbook. In 1893, Giovanni Morelli (Ivan Lermolieff) attributed the sketchbook to the sculptor Francesco di Simone Ferrucci da Fiesole (Francesco di Simone Fiorentino), who was said by Giorgio Vasari to have been Verrocchio's pupil but who was in actuality Verrocchio's near contemporary.2 From the little that is known about Francesco di Simone (he is not documented until 1463), he was likely a collaborator in the Verrocchio workshop. Scholars have usually accepted Morelli's attribution, though often with reservations (Georg Gronau expressing the most doubt in 1896), for the inscriptions on the pages seem to be by another hand than that of the artist of the sketches, and the names "Lorenzo" and "Gabrielo" also turn up.That the draftsman of the sketchbook is probably not the author of the actual motifs can be surmised from the fact that the main motif of the kneeling Virgin seen here in the center of the recto seems to be copied repeatedly on the other sheets, recording the incomplete state of the original work that served as a model. One such kneeling Virgin appears in a sheet at Chantilly (Musée Condé, 23[17] verso), while at least two further variants in drawings that were not part of the so-called Verrocchio Sketchbook are at the Palazzo Abatellis, Palermo, and the British Museum, London (1963-11-9-23). On the one hand, the drawings are close in style to a design in the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, that may well be Francesco di Simone's original study for the tomb of the jurist Alessandro Tartagni (San Domenico, Bologna), from about 1477 to 1480 and mentioned by Vasari. On the other hand, some of the annotations on the sheets conflict with the thesis of Francesco's authorship. (Carmen C. Bambach, 2003)
Attributed to Francesco di Simone Ferrucci (Italian, Fiesole 1437–1493 Florence)





The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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