Baldassare Franceschini VOLTERRANO (Volterra 1611 - Florence 1690)

Study of Two Variant Designs for a Cartouche [recto]; Studies of Frames or Cartouches [verso]

Black chalk. The verso in red chalk.
247 x 260 mm. (9 3/4 x 10 1/4 in.)


Although he was a prolific draughtsman, drawings for architecture, decorative motifs and metalwork by Volterrano are relatively rare. A group of twenty-four drawings of this type are in the Kunstbibliothek in Berlin, while several others were included among a large group of drawings by the artist sold at auction in 1980. As McCorquodale has pointed out, ‘Volterrano...allowed his most robust, if controlled, drawing style to emerge in his designs for carving, stuccoes, metalwork and other decoration’, while another scholar has noted that such drawings display ‘the elegance and sophistication [that are] always present in Volterrano’s decorations.’ As has also been noted of such works, ‘The florid baroque style evident in these drawings, and even the way numerous unfinished sketches are crowded on to the sheet, seem to be inspired by Bernini, whose work Volterrano knew from his two stays in Rome, but the condensed nature of the ornament is characteristically Florentine.’

Volterrano is known to have designed a handful of picture frames; a painting of The Baptism of Christ by Paolo Veronese in the collection of the Grand Duke Ferdinando II de’ Medici, for example, is set into in an elaborate gilt frame carved by Jacopo Maria Foggini to a design by Volterrano6. Other drawings for frames by Volterrano are in the collections of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Kunstbibliothek in Berlin, the Library of the Romanian Academy in Bucharest and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The present sheet may be compared to other drawings by Volterrano for decorative details and ornament, such as two sheets of studies for the design of a frame, sold alongside the present drawing at auction in London in 1980, and several of the drawings in the Kunstbibliothek in Berlin. The verso of the present sheet, drawn in red chalk, appears to show several designs for frames or cartouches, and may be compared with a drawing for an oval cartouche or frame which was on the art market in London in 2004 and is now in the collection of the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Probably part of a group of 410 drawings by Volterrano, mounted into four albums, sold Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 8 November 1922, lot 214
Anonymous sale (‘An Important Group of Drawings by Baldassare Franceschini, called Il Volterrano’), London, Sotheby’s, 3 July 1980, probably lot 2 (‘An ornamental frame, and a study of a face. Black chalk. 215 x 252. On the verso are red chalk studies of decorative carving.’)
Brian Sewell, London.

Baldassare Franceschini VOLTERRANO

Study of Two Variant Designs for a Cartouche [recto]; Studies of Frames or Cartouches [verso]


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