Giovanni di Benedetto Bandini
A Standing Figure of a Saint

A Standing Figure of a Saint (recto and verso)

Black chalk (verso), pen and brown ink, fragmentary watermark

404 x 194 mm. (15 7/8 x 7 5/8 in.)


Both the recto and verso of the present drawing were drawn in preparation for the standing male marble figures that decorate the recinto (bas-reliefs) of the choir in the Duomo, Florence. This was a project that Bandini worked on from 1560 until 1572. However the project was started by his master Baccio Bandinelli in 1547. On the death of Bandinelli in 1560 a number of the sculptures had been completed, however Bandini completed the majority of them. Our drawing is a fine example of one of Bandini's drawings for this project. Nine are known, and are all fully discussed by Roger Ward1 and more recently by Anna Forlani Tempesti2. The recent lifting of the verso from its old backing has revealed another drawing of a standing saint. This is a preliminary study of one of the two saints in a drawing at the Cleveland Museum of Art3. The Cleveland drawing is for the same project as ours.

Our drawing was engraved by Jan de Bisschop who made the error in assigning this group to Bandini's master, Bandinelli. However Middeldorf connected one of these drawings to a sculpture of St. James the Less of 1573-6 in Florence Cathedral by Bandini4, thus confirming Bandini as the draughtsman. Our drawing has a distinguished provenance, and was identified throughout its early history as Donatello.

Indeed Forlani Tempesti has shown how many of these figure drawings by Bandini have been attributed to Donatello. There was only one recorded Donatello drawing in Reynolds auction, and this was included

in lot 117. It is most likely that this is our drawing. Reynolds auction of prints, drawings and casts lasted eighteen days, and it was at this sale that his stamp was added. The more important drawings were stamped on the recto.

Giovanni Bandini, known as Giovanni dell'Opera due to his many years of service for the Cathedral Works (Opera del Duomo), received recognition early in his career. In 1563 he became a member of the newly established Accademia del Disegno. He worked on important commissions for the Medici including the portrait bust of Cosimo I de'Medici, as well as personifications of Architecture and the Tiber for the catafalque of Michelangelo. Bandini was the foremost portrait sculptor in Florence from the late 1560s till 1582, when he was called to Pesaro by the Duke of Urbino.

1.R. Ward, loc.cit. A copy of our drawing is in the Louvre (Inv. 146), A. Forlani Tempesti, op.cit., fig.12.

2.I would like to thank Mia Weiner for pointing out this reference.

3.Inventory no. 83.91.

4.U. Middeldorf, 'Giovanni Bandini, detto Giovanni dell'Opera', Raccolta di scritti, II, Florence, 1980, pp.77-92.