A Drawing by Piero del Pollaiuolo Acquired by the Getty Museum

Piero del Pollaiulo (about 1443-1496)
Portrait of a Young Man, c.1470
Pen, brown ink and black chalk - 36 x 22.8 cm
Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum
Photo : Getty Museum

26/01/12 - Acquisition - Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum - The Getty Museum has just announced the acquisition of a drawing attributed to Piero del Pollaiuolo which is a portrait of a young man dating from around 1470. Purchased at auction at Sotheby’s New York on 25 January, it was estimated at $300,000 to $400,000 and was sold finally for $1,395,000.
Previously attributed to Marco Zoppo [1], today it is given to the Florentine school and, more precisely, to Piero del Pollaiuolo. The author of the catalogue entry points out the similarities to a drawing of a profile portrait attributed to Pollaiuolo’s circle (Rome, Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe della Farnesina) and compares it also to the representation of a young man produced in oil on panel by Piero (formerly in the Merton Collection).
As Alison Wright explains [2], the very finished treatment of the portrait recalls the design of a decor of inlaid metal work on silver and, notably the work of the Florentine master, Maso da Finiguerra, well known for his many studies after models and for his mastery of niello, with whom Antonio del Pollaiuolo, Piero’s brother worked in the early 1460’s.
The Getty drawing is however more detailed and more subtle than Maso’s. An innovative aspect is the way in which the model is presented almost face on, looking out at the viewer and not in profile. The very large size of the sheet and the very accomplished aspect of the drawing lead us to think this is not a preparatory study but an actual work. The model’s direct look and the reversed position of the buttons on his clothing (the right side closing over the left side) might even suggest that this is perhaps a self-portrait.

Version française

Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, mardi 31 janvier 2012


[1] Eberhard Ruhmer, Marco Zoppo, Vicence 1966. Quoted in the auction catalogue.

[2] Author of The Pollaiuolo Brothers : the arts of Florence and Rome, Yale University Press, 2005. Quoted in the Sotheby’s auction catalogue.

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