Heinrich Beckman (1874-1940) (Frits Lugt).
Black chalk, pen and brown ink, brown wash
180 x 160 mm. (7 1/8 x 6 3/8 in.)
According to Vasaris Lifes della Porta was in Milan in 1530 copying works by Leonardo da Vinci. In 1534 della Porta stopped at Genoa to work for his uncle Gian Giacomo. There he executed a number of independent sculptures and at the same time worked as stuccatore with Perino del Vaga. The latter had an important influence on the young artist. Della Portas preferred medium is pen and ink without wash.
Vasari dates della Portas departure for Rome to 1537 and adds that through his uncle he met Michelangelo. Michelangelo befriended the young artist and obtained a post for him restoring the Farnese collection of antique sculpture, which included the newly discovered Farnese Hercules. He was then recommended to Pope Paul III Farnese, who commissioned bronzes and marble busts from him. In 1547 at the death of Sebastiano del Piombo della Porta took over his office as keeper of the seal (piombo) of the Papal bulls. His only commission thereafter is the tomb of Paul III, finished in 1575.
The attribution was tentatively suggested by Hugo Chapman, who compared our drawing with ones in an album in Dusseldorf1. It is possible that this was a design for some silver.
Heinrich Beckman was an industrialist who was born in Germany and worked in the cotton industry in Manchester, England. He then moved back to Germany. He began his collection after the first world war, and collected mainly Italian drawings. His collection was exhibited in the Bremer Kunsthalle in 1938.
Rhoda Eitel-Porter, who has also seen the drawing, confirms that an attribution to della Porta is possible2.
1.C. Valone, Paul IV, Guglielmo della Porta and the Rebuilding of San Silvestro al Quirnale in Master Drawings, Vol.XV, No.3, 1977, p.243-p.255, figs 2-10 & 12.
2.Communication 26 July 2004.