This artist was in Rome in 1527 when the troops of Charles V sacked the city, and was imprisoned and forced to pay a heavy ransom for his, his wife's, and his daughter's safe release.
Perino del Vaga made this spirited pen and ink and wash drawing as a preliminary sketch for a fresco cycle depicting the military campaigns of Alexander the Great, intended for the apartments of Pope Paul III in the Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome. At the time, he was also working on commissions at the Vatican Palace where he studied and drew from the frescoes of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel. One pose in the drawing, that of the man in front who, sword poised over his head, prepares to strike a man below, was probably inspired by Michelangelo’s rendering of David and Goliath on the ceiling. Perino adapted the violent pose for a military rather than biblical subject, filling out the scene with trumpeting elephants and a pile of soldiers in combat. On the verso of the sheet, Perino drew a quick sketch of a standing camel and another, closer view of the animal's head and legs.
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