Title: Standing Male Nude
Pen and ink over pencil on laid paper
Dimensions: Image: 13 x 7 1/8 inches (33 x 18.1 cm)
Acquired through the Ernest I. White, Class of 1893, Endowment Fund
This figure study of a stoic male nude has traditionally been attributed to Stefano della Bella, a prolific seventeenth-century draftsman known for his use of short, parallel strokes to simulate volume. The square stamp at bottom right reveals that this drawing was once owned by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723–1792), whose collection was described as being filled with “virtuoso” works. Upon further inspection, the unresolved aspects of composition—like the disproportionately thick torso, elongated and contorted legs, and unfinished arms—seem to indicate that the sheet is not from the experienced hand of della Bella, but rather a more novice artist drawing from a live model. Pentimenti outlines along the torso are still visible, revealing that the artist did perhaps struggle with the correct proportions of the body. Furthermore, the drawing was sketched initially in graphite, a more forgiving and less permanent material than ink. Yet, in spite of its shortcomings, this drawing remains an invaluable and charming document of a student figure-drawing experience. (“Undressed: The Nude in Context, 1500-1750,” text by Brittany R. R. Rubin and presented at the Johnson Museum February 9-June 16, 2019)
NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.