Virgin and Child with St. Catherine of Alexandria and Saint Anne (?)

Virgin and Child with St. Catherine of Alexandria and Saint Anne (?)

c. 1545

Battista Franco

(Italian, c. 1510-1561)

Pen and brown ink and brush and brown wash with red chalk underdrawing, heightened with white gouache (partially tarnished); pricked (lower part of Virgin)

Support: Light brown laid paper, lined with Japanese paper

Sheet: 26.1 x 26.2 cm (10 1/4 x 10 5/16 in.)

Delia E. Holden Fund 1965.16


Battista Franco was one of Michelangelo’s most devoted followers: his biographer Giorgio Vasari wrote that he drew every figure on the master’s Sistine Chapel ceiling. In Franco’s own works, such as this drawing, he made new, inventive compositions that emulated Michelangelo without directly copying or quoting his works.

The drawing—possibly a study for painted pottery—shows the Virgin Mary and Christ flanked by Saints Anne and Catherine. The unusual, twisting forms of the saints recall the inventive poses that Michelangelo created for many of the saints on the Last Judgment fresco.

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