Francesco Furini
Florence circa 1600 1646 Florence
Head of the Virgin wearing a Crown

PROVENANCE: Anonymous sale, Christies London 29 November 1977, lot 14 (as F. Furini); Professor Raymond E. Pahl, FBA (1935-2011).

Red chalk on blue paper, inscribed on the verso in pencil Boccaccino 1518

99 x 75 mm. (3 7/8 x 3 in.)


Furini received his artistic training in the workshops of Passignano, Biliverti and Rosselli, where he distinguished himself as the best student of his generation. He can be credited with the creation of a delicate, sensuous manner that characterizes Florentine paintings from 1630 to the end of the seventeenth century. His speciality were secular paintings, full of luminous and naturalistic effects, which he learned during a brief but formative period of study in the workshop of Manfredi. In 1639 after the death of Giovanni da San Giovanni, Furini was called upon to complete the unfinished frescoes in the Sala degli Argenti in the Palazzo Pitti, where he executed The Allegory of the Death of San Lorenzo il Magnifico and Lorenzo deMedici among Poets and Philosophers near the Statue of Plato. Upon the successful completion of the frescoes in 1642, he became one of the most sought after artists at the Medici court.

The handling of the chalk of our drawing can be compared to a number of drawings by Furini, including one of a Female Nude (Eve?) drawn in red chalk at Princeton University and another drawing of a Female Head Crowned with a Laurel, also drawn in red chalk in the Uffizi, and the head is also directed at the viewer.1

The attribution to Furini has been confirmed by a number of scholars, including Professor Giulia Bora. 2

1.F. Gibbons, Catalogue of Italian Drawings in the Art Museum, Princeton University, New Jersey, 1977, I, p. 85, and II, pl.222, and A. Petrioli Tofani, Gabinetto disegni e stampe degli Uffizi, Inventario, 2. Disegni esposti, pp.391-2, number 922E.

2.Written communication, 22 May 2012, on the basis of a photograph.