Traces of black chalk underdrawing, pen and brown ink, brown wash, heightened with white on blue paper, cut out as a silhouette on laid paper
143 x 131 mm. (5 5/8 x 5 1/4 in)
The paper has been cut along the edge of the figure, and the original paper is laid onto at least three further supports, there are minor losses in the sleeve, and there are abrasions throughout, there is a minor tear by the finger of the prophet.
One of the most important and influential painters of the late 16th century Federico was trained by his brother Taddeo, who became his teacher and whom he assisted in a number of commissions: between 1560 and 1563 Federico helped in the Casino of Pius IV and the Belvedere in the Vatican. He spent the next three years in Venice and Florence before returning to Rome in 1566. After Taddeos death in 1566 Federico completed many of his brothers unfinished projects including the fresco cycles in the Palazzo Farnese at Caprarola, the Sala Regia of the Vatican and the Pucci Chapel in Santa Trinita dei Monti. Following a visit to France, the Netherlands and England in 1574-75, he was contracted to the complete the decoration of the Duomo, Florence.
The present drawing is reminiscent of the many drawings that Federico Zuccaro did for the decoration of the second and third zones of the octagonal cupola of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Duomo, Florence. The theme of the decoration is the Last Judgement and the elaborate program was at first devised for Vasari by the humanist Vincenzo Borghini. When Vasari died in 1574 the decoration was unfinished, and Federico continued the work, completing it in 1576. The cupola was unveiled in 1579. In particular the present drawing can be compared to The Virgin and Holy Women in the British Museum. It is possible the figure of our drawing is Saint Matthew, since he is holding onto a book, his attributed since he is traditionally regarded as the author of the first gospel.
1.J.A.Gere and P.Pouncey, Italian Drawings in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum, Artists Working in Rome, c.1550 to c.1640, London, 1983, pp.188-9, plate 295