Half-draped figure of Penelope in mourning [Recto]; Schematic ground-plan of a columned vestibule [Verso]

WAG 1995.244


The figure of the ancient Greek heroine Penelope, seated and in mourning for her husband Odysseus, wrongly presumed dead in the Trojan wars, often appeared on ancient Roman terracotta reliefs and freestanding stone sculptures. This drawing may be Peruzzi's sketch after one such stone figure now in the Louvre Museum in Paris. Peruzzi's sketch is in his 'wiry' late style which he used in the note-pad (taccuino) he started when he was in Siena between 1527 and 1532, but may have continued when he moved to Rome at the end of his career. A female figure almost identical in pose and technique and seen from almost the same angle as the recto of WAG 1995.244 appears on the back of folio 7 of the Sienese taccuino held by the Biblioteca Communale degli Intronati library in Siena. The numbers written in the top left corner of the drawing are also thought to be by Peruzzi. On the verso, the roughly sketched outline of an architectural ground plan with columns has been identified as possibly being Peruzzi's first idea for the colonnaded entrance to the Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne on via San Pantaleone in Rome, on which Peruzzi began to work around about 1532, and which was completed after his death. The palace's site was problematic with the road in front that curved sharply, and his solution, as shown in a series of drawings, which began with a straight design for the frontage, was to bend the facade. When this drawing was auctioned at William Roscoe's bankruptcy sale on 23 September 1816 as lot 93, it was sold along with another drawing by Peruzzi, (now WAG 1995.245), which had also previously been in in the collection of William Young Ottley, the pioneering English collector of early Renaissance art. Two other drawings were also part of the same lot and mistakenly thought to be by Peruzzi, WAG 1995.50, now attributed to Sodoma, and the Italian School WAG 1995.97.