Andrea BOSCOLI (Florence 1560 - Florence 1608)

Two Studies of a Flayed Male Nude, after Pietro Francavilla

Pen and brown ink and brown wash, over an underdrawing in black and red chalk.
Inscribed Michael angelo Buonaroti. at the lower right.
Made up at the top and bottom edges and laid down on an old mount.
Inscribed No.2 and Bandinellii on the backing sheet.
A fragment of text from a French auction or exhibition catalogue (‘73. Deux hommes nues, debout.’) pasted onto the backing sheet.
406 x 236 mm. (16 x 9 1/4 in.) [sheet]


This striking sheet is one of four large drawings of the same flayed male figure by Andrea Boscoli. Two drawings in the Uffizi, both drawn on blue paper, show the same figure from the right side and from the front, and strongly lit from the left. Another drawing by Boscoli, showing the same figure from behind and drawn on blue paper, was with Stephen Ongpin Fine Art in 2015 and is today in an American private collection. Julian Brooks has commented on ‘Boscoli’s characteristically strong chiaroscuro’ in these ecorché drawings, and adds that they ‘seem more concerned with the general effect created by the dramatic pose and taut musculature than the intricate detail per se.’ 

For each of these drawings, Boscoli has copied, from several different angles, a bronze statuette of a flayed man by the Franco-Flemish sculptor Pietro Francavilla (1548-1615), a pupil and assistant of Giambologna in Florence. The only extant cast of this écorché sculpture is today in the Jagiellonian University Museum in Cracow in Poland, where it has been recorded since the late 18th century. As Anthea Brook has noted of Francavilla’s bronze in Cracow, ‘in this statuette the mannerist delight in the intricacies of contrappostois taken to unusual lengths. The static poses of earlier anatomical illustrations of the 15th and 16th centuries were developed by the time of Vesalius’s Treatise (1543) into a more mannerist style, in which the bend of the heads and the gestures of the hands are expressive and pathetic. It would indeed be difficult to find a more instructive example of mannerist sculpture than the present statuette.’ The Florentine biographer Filippo Baldinucci wrote of Francavilla that he produced a number of écorché statuettes in terracotta that were cast several times and were avidly studied by artists.

Nadia Bastogi has noted in particular ‘the heroic dynamism of these anatomical studies’ by Boscoli, and has dated these drawings to the final years of the 16th century. While Anna Forlani Tempesti agreed with this dating, Julian Brooks has suggested a slightly earlier date of c.1590-1595 for these studies, while Monique Kornell has dated the Uffizi drawings to the late 1570s or early 1580s.

Comte Jean-Joseph-Marie-Anatole Marquet de Vasselot, Paris (Lugt 2499)
His sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 28-29 May 1891, lot 67 (as Michelangelo, ‘Deux Écorchés. Étude à la plume.’)
An unidentified collector’s mark in the form of a coat of arms indistinctly stamped in red at the lower right
Anonymous sale, New York, Christie’s, 23 January 2002, lot 23
Private collection.

Julian Brooks, The Drawings of Andrea Boscoli (c.1560-1608), unpublished Ph.D dissertation, University of Oxford, 1999, Vol.I, p.166, p.353 (not illustrated). 


Two Studies of a Flayed Male Nude, after Pietro Francavilla


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