Black chalk, heightened with white on buff paper, upper margin made up
240 x 183 mm. (9 x 7 in.)
Francesco was the son of Jacopo Bassano, and was the principal assistant in the family workshop from the early 1560s, and seems to have played an important role in the execution and replication of his fathers increasingly popular biblical genre pictures. In 1578 he moved to Venice, where he was immediately commissioned to paint four battle scenes for the new ceiling of the post fire Sala del Maggior Consiglio in the Palazzo Ducale. In the 1580s he contributed to the history cycle in the same room, as well as to other major decorative projects in Venice, Bescia and Bergamo, while also continuing to practise the family specialism of genre pictures for private collectors. In 1591 he attempted suicide, and later died of his injuries.
Nodari compares our drawing to one that is fully accepted as by Francesco Bassano by Tietze and her, and is in the Uffizi and is of An Old Man seated on a Horse and a Boy holding a cup. This chalk drawing is of the figure seated on the horse, plus the boy holding a cup. Nodari identifies our drawing as from the workshop of Francesco Bassano. 1
Roger Rearick, commented on a photograph of the drawing, that it is a study for, or after a painting of the Israelites Drinking the Miraculous Water. The best version, 63 x 102 cm, passed through the hands of the dealer Herzig in Vienna in 1961. It is a fine work of Francesco Bassano with perhaps some slight intervention of Jacopo. The figure of the youth at left is close, but not identical to that of the drawing. The present drawing was, I believe, done after that picture in the preparation of a replica with variations of which one of several versions survives in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, no, I 4211. The drawing is closer in every way to this replica which is a later variant by Francesco. It exists in versions by Leandro as well, but the drawing stands between these first two is very characteristic of Francesco in the late 1570s.3 There seems to be some confusion over the painting by Francesco Bassano in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna which is in fact inventory number GG4300, and the painting is Miracle from the Source of Mara. [See Figure 1]
1. F. Nodari, op.cit., p.65. The drawing in the Uffizi by Francesco is 13049F, and measures 282 x 334 mm.
2. P. Humphrey, T.Clifford, Aidan Weston-Lewis, The Age of Titian, Venetian Renaissance Art from Scottish Collections, National Galleries of Scotland, 2004, p.407.
3. Letter dated 19 February 1980, the painting by Leandro is illustrated in Nodari, op.cit. plate 47.
4. David McTavish confirmed the attribution, on the basis of a photograph, in an email dated 13 May 2012.