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Last updated: 1/25/2017
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Old master Drawings: Perino del Vaga (Pietro Buonaccorsi; Florence, 1501-1547 Rome)

North Italian Illuminated Manuscript / Italian Old Master Drawings: An Overview / Italian School, 16th-Century Drawings
Michelangelo Buonarotti (After) / Raphael / Giulio Romano / Perino del Vaga / Marcantonio Raimondi / Parmigianino
Titian (after) / Andrea Schiavone / Tintoretto / Veronese / Taddeo Zuccaro / Federico Zuccaro / Alessandro Casolani
Jacopo Palma il Giovane / Cherubino Alberti / Luca Cambiaso / Annibale Carracci / Ludovico Carracci

Italian School, 17th-Century Drawings / Bolognese School / Giovanni Baglione / Matteo Rosselli / Ercole Bazzicaluva
Baldassare Franceschini called Il Volterrano / Pier Francesco Mazzuccelli, il Morazzone / Odoardo Fialetti / Simone Cantarini
Domenichino / Francesco Albani / Giovanni Lanfranco / Guercino / Pier Francesco Mola / Antonio Busca

Italian School Printmakers, 15th-17th Centuries: Venetian School, c. 1497 / Raphael School / Giovanni Jacopo Caraglio
Marcantonio Raimondi / The Master of the Die / Anea Vico / Agostino Veneziano / Nicholas Beatrizet
Michelangelo Buonarotti (After) / Giulio Bonasone / Giovanni Battista Franco /Girolamo Fagiuoli / Cherubino Alberti
Titian (after) / Tintoretto (after) / Parmigianino / Giorgio Ghisi / Diana Scultori / Annibale Carracci / Ludovico Carracci
Agostino Carracci / Simone Cantarini / Elisabetta Sirani / Gerolamo Scarsello

Netherlandish School 15th-17th-Century Drawings / Flemish School, 17th-Century
Bernaert van Orley / Lucas van Leyden / Maarten de Vos / Jan Baptiste de Wael / Abraham Bloemaert
Peter Paul Rubens / Philipp Sadeler / Nicolaes Maes / Rembrandt School

Netherlandish Printmakers 16th-17th Centuries: Lucas van Leyden, Maarten van Heemskerck, Cornelis Cort
Philips Galle, Abraham de Bruyn, Hans (Jan) Collaert, Adriaen Collaert, Karel de Mallery, Theodore Galle, Hendrik Goltzius
Julius Goltzius, Jacob Matham, Jan Sanraedam, Maarten de Vos, Jan Sadeler, Aegidius Sadeler, Raphael Sadeler
Crispin de Passe, Magdalena de Passe, Wierix Brothers, Rembrandt, Rembrandt School, Jan Lievens, Jan Joris van Vliet,
Ferdinand Bol, Govert Flinck

German Drawings: Hans Sebald Beham / Virgil Solis / Hans von Aachen / Johann Heinrich Roos
German 16th century printmakers: Heinrich Aldegrever, Jost Amman, Hans Sebald Beham, Hans Brosamer, Hans Burgkmair,
Lucas Cranach, Albrecht Durer, Albrecht Durer (After), Hans Holbein (After), Hopfer Brothers, Georg Pencz, Hans Schäufelein,
Virgil Solis, Wolfgang Stuber.

French Drawings: Charles de La Fosse / Etienne Parrocel / François Boucher / Jean-François de Neufforge / Mouricault
French printmakers: Etienne Delaune / Rene Boyvin /Thomas de Leu / Jean Cousin the Younger / Jacques Callot
Abraham Bosse / Sebastien Bourdon / Claude Gelle "le Lorraine" / Jean LePautre
Claudine Bouzonnet Stella / Antonette Bouzonnet Stella / Gabriel Perelle

19th-Century Drawings / 20th-Century Drawings
Perino joined Raphael's workshop around 1516, working on the Vatican Loggia. Vasari notes that Perino's studies (especially his studies of Michelangelo's cartoons in the Sistine Chapel), soon led him to become "the best designer in Rome, with a better understanding of the muscles and the difficulties of nude figures than any, perhaps even among the best masters" Lives, trans. A. B. Hinds, 4 volumes (London: Everyman, 1970), III, 122. It also led Raphael, hearing his praises from Giulio Romano and Gio. Francesco il Fattore, to employ him in the Vatican (Vasari, III, 122). After Raphael's death, he worked on several fresco schemes in Rome before being captured in the Sack of Rome and being forced to pay a huge ransom that impoverished him and led him to move in 1528 to Genoa in the service of Andrea Doria and then to Pisa (c. 1534). About 1537, he returned to Rome and become Pope Paul III's principal painter (Michelangelo's efforts on The Last Judgment for the Sistine Chapel and The Crucifixion of St. Peter for the Pauline Chapel occupying most of his time). Perino executed frescoes of the Four Cardinal Virtues in the Sala Paolina in the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome. For Vasari, in his Life of Perino, the dual tragedies of his life were that "he loved designing better than executing works" (III, 137) and that his poverty forced him to accept so many commissions that he could only do the drawings and was forced to let others paint them: "Having undertaken so much, and being infirm, he could not support his labor, being compelled to work day and night to satisfy the needs of the palace, designing numerous ornaments for the Farnese and other cardinals and lords. he never had an hour's quiet, his mind being constantly occupied, and he was always surrounded by sculptors, stucco-workers, wood-carvers, tailors, joiners, painters, gilders and other artisans [looking for employment]" (Lives, III, 139). The lesson that Vasari draws from this implicitly reaffirms his ultimate preference for Michelangelo's methods over Raphael's: "The dangers of this may be seen in the works of the Chigi and those done by others, as well as those which Perino had done. Giulio Romano[whom Vasari in his life of Giulio praises highly and claims as a good friend] also has not won much credit for the works which are not by his own hand. And although princes are pleased with works that are done quickly, and perhaps it also benefits the artists engaged upon them, yet they are not so interested as they would be in their own works, and however well the cartoons may be drawn, the pupils cannot imitate them so exactly as the designer could. He, seeing the work spoiled, hurries it on in desperation; and thus all who thirst for honor should do their own work. . . . A man who wishes to obtain all the honor due to his genius must needs take this course. Perino, owing to the numerous tasks committed to him, was forced to employ many men caring more for gain than glory" (III, 137). In a sense, then, for Vasari, and for us, the best guide to Perino's art is not the finished paintings, often done quicky by others of lesser skill after Perino's drawings, but the drawings themselves.

But if Perino never fulfilled his potential as an artist, he did play an important role in the Rome of Pope Paul III. As Barbara Davidson says, "When he returned to Rome [c. 1538] . . . he found no one to rival his versatile talents. Had Giulio Romano not moved to Mantua in 1524, he might have become Rome's most fashionable artist instead of Perino, but no one working in Rome in the late thirites and forties could surpass Perino's usefulness as a court artist. . . . Perino, to Vasari's disapproval, considered no commission beneath him. He was as happy when drawing sketches for a salt cellar as when painting the most magnificent halls of Rome. He enjoyed being surrounded by a corps of assistants who could carry out for him the projects he preferred designing to executing. Little wonder that the Pope, Cardinal Farnese, and other Roman princes plied him with commissions of every sort. Things even got done as long as he had someone to most of the labor for him. Perino's versatility, the attractive and entertaining qualities of his art, and his ability to combine in imitable form elements from disparate sources, especially from Raphael and Michelangelo, provided an example for succeeding generations. For if the spirit of Raphael and Michelangelo could not be copied, the outward shapes of their art could" (Master Drawings 1: 4, 24-25).

Selected Biibliography: The best guide to Perino is still that in Vasari's Life in the Lives of the Painters, Sculptors and Archictects. There are many versions in many languages of this; we use the 4 volume A. B. Hinds translation (London: Everyman, 1970). The Life of Perino is found in volume 3, pp. 120-40. There is also a German edition that includes many reproductions of the works Vasari describes, Giorgio Vasari, Das Leben des Perino Del Vaga, trans. Victoria Lorini and ed. Christina Irlenbusch (Berlin: Verlag Klaus Wagenbuch, 2008. For a summary of the events of Perino's life, see Richard Harpath's entry in the Grove Dictionary of Art (2000), 24: 419-20, with bibliography. For Perino's drawings, see the selections by Perino in Phillip Pouncey and. J. A. Gere, Italian drawings in the department of prints and drawings in the British Museum. Raphael and his circle: Giulio Romano, G.F. Penni, Perino del Vaga, Giovanni da Udine, Tommaso Vincidor, Polidoro da Caravaggio, Baldassare Peruzzi, Timoteo Viti and Girolamo Genga. Also Sebastiano del Piombo (London: The Trustees of the British Museum, 1962), Bernice F. Davidson, "Early Drawings by Perino del Vaga, Part One," Master Drawings 1: 3 (1963), 3-16, and plates 1-7 and "Early Drawings by Perino del Vaga, Part Two," Master Drawings 1: 4 (1963), 19-26 and plates 16-19, Bernice F. Davidson, Mostra di Disegni di Perino del Vaga e della sua cerchia (Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 1966), J. A. Gere, Drawings by Raphael and his Circle from British and North American Collections (NY: Pierpont Morgan Library, 1987), pp. 229-256, Bernice F. Davidson, "The Cope Embroideries Designed by Paul III by Perino del Vaga," Master Drawings 28:2 (1990), 123-141 and Martin Clayton, Raphael and his Circle: Drawings from Windsor Castle (London: Merrell Holberton, 1999), pp. 163-198. I have not yet seen a copy of Perino del Vaga: tra Raffaello e Michelangelo, an exhibition catalogue for a 2001 show at the Galleria Civica de Palazzo del Te, Mantua.
Perino del Vaga (Pietro Buonaccorsi; Florence, 1501-1547 Rome), attributed, Fortitude. Pen and brown ink and wash on heavy laid paper, c. 1545. Perino joined Raphael's workshop around 1516, working on the Vatican Loggia. Vasari notes that Perino's studies (especially his studies of Michelangelo's cartoons in the Sistine Chapel), soon led him to become "the best designer in Rome, with a better understanding of the muscles and the difficulties of nude figures than any, perhaps even among the best masters" Lives, trans. A. B. Hinds, 4 volumes (London: Everyman, 1970), III, 122. It also led Raphael, hearing his praises from Giulio Romano and Gio. Francesco il Fattore, to employ him in the Vatican (Vasari, III, 122). After Raphael's death, he worked on several fresco schemes in Rome before being captured in the Sack of Rome and being forced to pay a huge ransom that impoverished him and led him to move in 1528 to Genoa in the service of Andrea Doria and then to Pisa (c. 1534). About 1537, he returned to Rome and become Pope Paul III's principal painter (Michelangelo's efforts on The Last Judgment for the Sistine Chapel and The Crucifixion of St. Peter for the Pauline Chapel not permitting him time to do anything else for the Pope). Perino executed frescoes of the Four Cardinal Virtues in the Sala Paolina in the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome. No other studies of Perino's Fortitude are known, although the Met owns his drawing of Prudence in a niche (see J. A. Gere, Drawings by Raphael and his Circle, plate 78. Along with several other drawings, Fortitude and Prudence share a wide, flat big toe; see also Bernice F. Davidson, Mostra di Disegni di Perino del Vaga e della sua cerchia, plates 5, 44, and 45; similar toes may also be found in Perino's drawings reproduced in Gere, plates 67, 71, and 77), in Davidson 1:4 (1963), plate 18, in Davidson 1990, fig. 11-13, and in Clayton, plates 47. For Vasari, in his Life of Perino, the dual tragedies of his life were that "he loved designing better than executing works" (III, 137) and that his poverty forced him to accept so many commissions that he could only do the drawings and was forced to let others paint them: "Having undertaken so much, and being infirm, he could not support his labor, being compelled to work day and night to satisfy the needs of the palace, designing numerous ornaments for the Farnese and other cardinals and lords. he never had an hour's quiet, his mind being constantly occupied, and he was always surrounded by sculptors, stucco-workers, wood-carvers, tailors, joiners, painters, gilders and other artisans [looking for employment]" (Lives, III, 139). Image size: 377x173mm. Price: $250,000.
NEWS FLASH! Perino del Vaga's works were very much in the news last week! From The New York Times: "On 26 January 2011, The Metropolitan Museum of Art set a new world record for a drawing by Perino by paying $782,500 for a drawing for a tapestry of Jupiter and Juno Reclining in an Alcove. The prior auction record for a drawing by Perino was $374,000. The next day, the Met bought The Holy Family With the Infant St. John the Baptist,” a painting by Perino, for $2 million. It had been expected to bring $300,000 to $400,000. "It was a double sweep,” Keith Christiansen, the Met’s chairman of European paintings, said in a telephone interview. “Perino del Vaga is one of the very great Renaissance draftsmen, but the minute I saw this painting, I nearly keeled over.”
Giorgio Ghisi (Italian, 1520-1582), Venus and Vulcan at the Forge (Bartsch 54, Boorsch, Lewis, and Lewis 19 iv). Engraving after Perino del Vaga, mid 1550s. Our impression is from an edition published in Rome in the 17th Century. Inscribed "PIRINVS IN" bottom center, "Gio: Jacomo Rossi formis Romae alle Pace" in italics lower right and "GMF" lower left. A very good impression trimmed on or within the platemark on laid paper. Venus comforts Cupid with her left had while holding an arrow on Vulcan's forge so that he can make a new head for it while two putti help with the forging. Image size: 190x311mm. Price: SOLD.

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