Aurelio LUINI

(Milan c.1530 - Milan 1593)

Sheet of Studies of Lower Torsos and Legs, Arms and a Shoulder

Pen and brown ink.
A faint study of a torso and legs drawn in pen and brown ink on the verso.
248 x 171 mm. (9 3/4 x 6 3/4 in.)
Aurelio Luini was an accomplished draughtsman, and among such contemporaries as Giovan Paolo Lomazzo was highly regarded in particular for his masterful anatomical studies and figure drawings. The artist’s interest in anatomy was very likely the result of his close friendship with Carlo Urbino, who published a study of the principles of anatomy, perspective and proportion, inspired by the theories of Leonardo, which is known as the Codex Huygens and is today in the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York.

The present sheet is highly characteristic of Luini’s style as a draughtsman and, both in subject and in composition, reveals the particular influence of Leonardo’s anatomical studies, which the artist would certainly have known. (According to a contemporary biographer, Luini owned a large drawn cartoon of The Holy Family with Saint Anne as well as a group of about fifty drawings - apparently mainly caricatures and grotesque heads - by Leonardo, to which Luini seems to have turned for inspiration in producing his own small-scale drawn studies of teste caricate.) As Lucia Tantardini has noted of Luini’s abiding interest in Leonardo’s drawings, ‘Aurelio’s intellectual, yet original, approach to the great Florentine makes him one of the late sixteenth-century Italian artists who most acutely attempted to grasp the range of Leonardo’s draughtsmanship.’

Stylistically comparable drawings by Aurelio Luini include a sheet of studies of legs, arms, a torso and a head in profile at Christ Church in Oxford and a study of Neptune in the British Museum in London.

The youngest son of the Milanese painter Bernardino Luini, who died when he was an infant, Aurelio Luini nevertheless worked in his father’s tradition as a pupil and one of the best followers of Leonardo da Vinci. Like his father, Aurelio worked for most of his life in his native city of Milan, often in collaboration with other local artists. Together with his brother Giovan Pietro, he was tasked in the mid-1550s with completing some of the fresco decoration begun by their father Bernardino in the Milanese church of San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore. In this cycle of scenes from the life of Christ, his first major independent work, Aurelio’s forms retain his father’s characteristic softness and chiaroscuro. Many of the younger Luini’s commissions came from religious societies, and his work can be found in several churches in and around his native Milan, including the Duomo. He also produced a large number of fresco cycles in the city and throughout Lombardy and Piedmont, notably in the Milanese church of San Vincenzo alle Monache and at Santa Maria di Campagna on the outskirts of Pallanza, on Lake Maggiore, where he worked alongside another Lombard painter, Carlo Urbino. The final and most significant works of Luini’s nearly forty-year career are the frescoed scenes from the life of Saint Ambrose for the vault of a chapel in the Tribunale di Provvisione in Milan, completed a few weeks before his death in 1593. As well as being a painter, Luini was also a poet, and was himself the subject of a sonnet composed by artist and writer Giovan Paolo Lomazzo: ‘Tu Aurelio, la cui mente più alto aspira, / Come per l’opere tui si vede e mira. / Oltre ch’in dolce lira / Dolce canti i pensier ne i tuoi disegni, / Dispiegandogli in versi ornate e degni.’


Marcello Aldega, Rome, in 1980 (as Domenico Beccafumi)

Anonymous sale, New York, Sotheby’s, 21 January 2003, lot 71.



Rome, Marcello Aldega, Disegni italiani dal XVI al XVIII secolo, exhibition catalogue, 1980, p.7, no.1, illustrated p.57 (as Domenico Beccafumi).



Rome, Marcello Aldega, Disegni italiani dal XVI al XVIII secolo, 1980, no.1 (as Domenico Beccafumi).


Aurelio LUINI

Sheet of Studies of Lower Torsos and Legs, Arms and a Shoulder