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Work Studies of folds for a kneeling figure

Department of Prints and Drawings: 16th century

Deux études de draperies pour une figure agenouillée

Musée du Louvre, dist. RMN-Grand Palais - Photo M. Beck-Coppola

Prints and Drawings
16th century

Bartolucci Sara

The product of close observation of a model, these studies of clothing for a kneeling figure testify to the concern with working from life that characterized the Florentine school of the 16th century. This sheet provides an opportunity to compare successive stages in formal analysis as practiced by one of the most brilliant draftsmen of his time.

Different stages in stylistic exploration

This study, typical of the preparatory work Salviati carried out for each part of a painting, is a perfect example of his modus operandi. The use of different chalks - red and black - enables him to study several aspects of the same subject. Red chalk was the medium he favored for his somewhat analytical formal exploration, while the black was used for the volumes: a precise, meticulous method learnt from his master, Andrea del Sarto. This concern with analyzing light and shade on the folds indicates the extent to which Salviati was part of the long tradition of Florentine draftsmen.

Repetition of the subject

The drawings were used for the folds in the clothing of St. Thomas, who kneels before Christ in The Incredulity of St. Thomas (Louvre). Here the artist focuses only on the lower part of the figure. In the painting, the kneeling figure reaches out to touch the wounds of Christ after the Resurrection. Traditional imagery offers direct physical contact, but in this case the relationship is established by the exchange of looks. Another drawing (Louvre, RF31739) immediately preceded the painting and was used as the basis for the officially signed contract. The group contains yet another drawing, Christ and St. Thomas (Rome, Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica), which offers a variation: on his knees, Thomas has his fingers entwined in a gesture of supplication. Salviati also used this motif in a different context, for the angel in an Annunciation (Rome, San Francesco a Ripa).

From Bronzino to Salviati

These studies enabled the attribution to Salviati of two drawings long thought to be by Bronzino (Besançon, Musée des Beaux Arts). Here Salviati opts for black chalk as the most effective means of giving free rein to his decorative urge. The drawing also points up the artist's intense interest in the drawing of folds, an interest that links him to the stylistic explorations of the great Renaissance masters Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo: the formal language perfected by that extraordinary generation of artists was still as influential as ever in the mid-16th century.


C. Monbeig Goguel, P. Costamagna, Francesco Salviati (1510-1563) ou la Bella Maniera, Exhibition catalogue, Paris, Musée du Louvre, 1998, pp. 116-117, 146-153
C. Monbeig Goguel, P. Costamagna, Salviati, Malakoff, Syneca, 1998

Technical description

  • Francesco Salviati (Florence, 1510-Rome, 1563)

    Studies of folds for a kneeling figure

    c. 1545

  • Red and black chalk

    H. 26.5 cm; W. 38.5 cm

  • Anonymous German collector; purchased 1994

    RF 43403

  • Prints and Drawings

    Due to their fragility, works on paper are not on permanent display in the museum.

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