Baldassare FRANCESCHINI called IL VOLTERRANO - 1611 – 1689
Study of Hands Holding a Bowl
Florentine School

Red chalk

22.4 x 21.1 cm

Inscribed :

Euro :

“Mano di Batt: Franceschini d: il Volterrano”



Baldassare Franceschini, born in Volterra in 1611, thus accounting for his nick-name, was a leading fresco painter in Florence during the second half of the seventeenth century. First trained as a sculptor by his father, Gasparo, he then studied in Florence under Matteo Rosselli and later assisted Giovanni da Giovanni in the decoration of the Sala degli Argenti in the Pitti Palace in 1658. He mainly remained in Florence, apart from a trip to Rome in 1652 and trips to Venice and Parma in 1640 and 1652 respectively. Il Volterrano's most famous work, the decoration of the SS. Annuziata in Florence, reveals the influence of Correggio and Pietro da Cortona. His other Florentine works include the Palazzo Della Gherardesca, Capponi and Niccolini as well as numerous churches. The style of Franceschini became always more expressive and dramatic. He died in Florence in 1689.

The present drawing originates from the most important collection of drawings by Baldassare Franceschini, almost two hundred sheets, which appeared with Sotheby's London in July of 1980. This collection provided the basis for a fundamental study of the artist's stylistic activity as a draughtsman. The present drawing could be considered as a study for the hands of Pope Clement VII, holding the crown of Charles V, The Holy Roman Emperor. This fresco was executed by Baldassare Franceschini in the Villa Petraia in Castello, Florence, between 1636 and 1647. As Franceschini certainly did not have a crown which one of his models could hold, he instead drew the model holding a bowl, which gave the same effect of shape and depth.

Comparative drawings by Il Volterrano are the two red chalk sheets in the Longhi Collection in Florence which have the same inscription in pen and ink as the present drawing. Comparative chalk studies of hands by Il Volterrano are the "Study of a Right Hand" in the Kunsthalle in Bremen (, the "Study of Nine Hands" formerly with Sotheby's London in 1980, the "Study of a Left Hand" formerly with Sotheby's New York in 2011, the "Study of Four Hands and a Draped Figure" formerly with Sotheby's London in 2013, the "Study of Three Hands and a Draped Figure" with Christie's Paris in 2003, and the "Hand Holding a Jug" formerly with Sotheby's London in 1998.


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