Two Putti for a Pilaster
20.64 cm x 13.02 cm (8 1/8 in. x 5 1/8 in.)
(16th century - )
Medium and Support:
Red chalk with traces of white chalk on antique laid paper (recto); pen and brown ink (verso)
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Suida-Manning Collection, 2017
In this study, two surprisingly muscular cherubs sit on a lion’s skin. Subtly modeled in red chalk, one cherub hangs a garland while the other gazes out at us, his finger up to his lips. The garland, lion’s skin, and cherubs’ physiques recall the story of Hercules. Ovid writes in the "Metamorphoses" that in preparation for his death “Hercules spread as quilt the lion’s skin, and used his club as pillow, and lay there, no more troubled than a feaster at a great banquet, garland-crowned.”
By the end of the fifteenth century, artists started drawing with red chalk by itself, exploring the range of a single color. The strong modeling and compact shallow space in this drawing suggest that it is a sketch for a decorative column.