SAINT DAMIAN OR COSMAS
Bears numbering verso 573, bears inscription verso Ecole Firenza / J G Pun...[?] 1561
Collector’s stamp l.r. (L.2500)
Pen & brown ink on wove paper
25 x 12 cm
Marquis Charles de Valori-Rustichelli (1820-1883) (L.2500)
[Likely] Hotel Drouot, Paris, 13-14.02.1908, Collection de Marquis de V. [Valori] Pt.2, Lot 395, Ecole Florentine XVe Siècle, Une Sainte portant un Ciboire. Plume
Private Collection, France
The present work is believed to be a contemporary copy of that sold at Sotheby’s, New York, Master Drawings, 28.01.2016, Lot 107, as Circle of Baldassare Peruzzi, Recto: St Cosmas (sold for $10,625).
No source has yet been found for the present work or its source, nor has a painted version yet been found. The two do not relate to the best-known paintings of the two saints, namely Fra Angelico’s Life of SS. Cosmo & Damian (National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin) and Filipo Lippi’s Novitiate Altarpiece (Uffizi Galleries, Florence), wherein the saints flank the Madonna & Child); and they are also very different in composition to Michelangelo’s interpretation of the subjects for Giovanni de’Medici’s tomb.
There are two unusual details in this composition: the hat of the saint is unlike those most commonly used in paintings of Cosmas and Damian, which have a top that overhangs the brim, marking them out immediately as physicians; and, secondly, the model for the saint was evidently a young man, rather than the bearded elder one might expect for learned doctors, used for the majority of 15th & 16th century depictions of the saints. For a comparable work showing the more common type of headwear, see Michelangelo's Three Draped Figures with Clasped Hands (1496–1503), Teylers Museum, Haarlem (Inv. No. A.22).
It is important to note that the Saint's significance in Western Catholic nations was largely confined to Florence in the period c.1480-1520, almost entirely due to Cosmo de’Medici adopting the saints as patrons of his family. The cross-hatching (a technique introduced by Ghirlandaio during the late Quattrocento (1)) and line of the work; its overall manner; the use of pen & ink alone (without wash or lead lines); and the subject, altogether, would suggest a Florentine origin, likely from around 1500. It was with a similar designation that the present drawing was (as far as our research indicates) last sold in 1908 in Paris. Notes:(1) Francis Ames-Lewis, Drapery 'Pattern' Drawings in Ghirlandaio's Workshop and Ghirlandaio's Early Apprenticeship, The Art Bulletin, Vol. 63, No. 1 (March, 1981), p.50