17. Andrea del Sarto

Florence 1486 – 1530 Florence

Study of a Child in his Mother’s Arms, between 1524 and 1526

This energetic drawing is a preparatory sketch for the child in the Barberini Holy Family (Galleria Nazionale, Rome). The very natural attitude of this figure, with his sulky expression and right hand resting on his mother’s breast, is identical to the painted version, as is the drap­ing and the depiction of light and shade. The head, which in our sheet is only sketched, was detailed by Sarto in a second drawing (Victoria & Albert Museum, London). Hesitation on the artist’s part is visible, nonetheless, in the position of the left arm: he has drawn it twice in our drawing, folded towards the face and relaxed along the body. The former solution, difficult to distinguish in the tangle of lines, is the one used in the painting.