SANTI DI TITO
(Sansepolcro 1536 - Florence 1603)
A Standing Male Nude
365 x 242 mm. (14 3/8 x 9 1/2 in.)
In his account of the artist’s career, Baldinucci reserved particular praise for Santi di Tito’s life drawings, of which he owned several, noting that ‘there come…from his hand an infinite number of drawings of particularly natural nudes…[which] are so marvellously proportioned, they are set on the page thus by design, so that the head can be placed at the summit of the page, with no waste or need for extra paper, just sufficient…to draw a very fine line.’ Santi’s drawings of male nudes are characterized by firm contours and a delicate play of light and shadow across the forms of the body.
While most of the artist’s studies of male nudes were drawn in black chalk, a number of fine examples in red chalk are known, with which the present sheet may be stylistically compared. These include a Standing Male Nude and a Study of a Nude Young Boy, both in the Uffizi, as well as three red chalk drawings of male nudes in the Louvre, which would appear to be studies of the same curly-haired model depicted on the present sheet. All of these drawings can be dated to the artist’s early maturity, in the decade of the 1570s.
Santi di Tito was a committed and very active member of the Florentine Accademia del Disegno throughout his career, and up until his death in 1603. His success as a painter led to the establishment of a flourishing studio, where he held informal life-drawing classes that were popular among younger Florentine artists. Indeed, his influence among his many students (including Andrea Boscoli, Agostino Ciampelli, Ludovico Cigoli, Gregorio Pagani and Cosimo Gamberucci), ensured that his Reformist style dominated the work of the succeeding generation of painters in Florence.
A talented and prolific draughtsman, Santi di Tito was, according to his biographer Baldinucci, ‘tanto innamorato di questa bella facoltà di disegno’, and worked in a variety of media, techniques and styles. Baldinucci goes on to note that the artist spent all his spare time making drawings - including, as he writes, studies of his wife, his children, the maidservant, the footstools and even the cat - and indeed a recently discovered inventory of the contents of Santi’s house and studio, taken just after his death in 1603, list more than seven hundred drawings. A significant number of Santi’s drawings were purchased by Baldinucci from the artist’s grandson and are now in the collection of the Uffizi in Florence, which today houses the largest number of drawings by the artist, amounting to some 250 sheets. Other significant groups of drawings by Santi di Tito are in the Louvre in Paris and the Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica in Rome.
Jean-Luc Baroni Ltd., London, in 2005
Private collection, London.