5. Andrea del Sarto

Florence 1486 – 1530 Florence

Studies for the Head, Torso and Right Arm of a Boy, circa 1526

Andrea del Sarto painted two Assumptions (Palazzo Pitti, Florence). The putto that supports the Virgin in both of them was prepared by Sarto first in our drawing, and then in that of the British Museum. Our sheet reads from left to right. In the first study on the left, the artist has paid no attention to the legs or the left arm of the figure, concealed in the paintings by clouds and the Virgin’s dra­pery. He concentrated on the representation of the torso, refining it in the study further to the right. He then ex­plored the head and the arm separately. The transforma­tion of the workshop boy, drawn from life, into a convinc­ing flying cherub, culminated in the London drawing in which the figure has acquired the rounded stomach of a young cherub, whose weightlessness is illustrated by the lack of balance of its body in space.