A bearded man looking up and to the left, possibly Giacomo Vignola charcoal and red chalk on paper sight, 9 3/4 x 7 1/2in (24.8 x 19cm)
The present drawing is an excellent example of Federico's portraiture of friends and associates, made in all likelihood around the time he took over the commission to complete the interior decoration of the cupola of Santa Maria dei Fiore in Florence, left unfinished by Giorgio Vasari upon his death in 1574. It compares well with similar drawings in Brussels and the Louvre, both in red and black chalks.
Looking at the roughly sketched details of costume, it appears that the sitter is a gentleman. He wears a cape, a ring or rings on the small finger of his left hand and holds what appears to be a glove. A more intriguing detail is the pair of dividers resting on the table, often an attribute of an architect. Certainly Federico knew a few architects and even portrayed one in a portrait drawing that was later turned into a fresco.
There is a presumed portrait of Giacomo Vignola, the architect of the Farnese villa at Caprarola, for which Federico and Taddeo Zuccaro created the interior decorations, now at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, which bears a resemblance to the present sitter, but clearly his beard and hair are better kempt in the Ashmolean sheet. We are also treated to views of different sides of his face, seen from the right at Oxford. Thus, while the evidence is not conclusive, it can be suggested that he is an architect and possibly Vignola.
We are grateful to James Mundy for confirming the attribution to Federico Zuccaro on the basis of photographs and for providing cataloguing information.
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