Giovanni Battista Franco / Attributed – Various Studies Including a Roman Sarcophagus


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Pen and brown ink and wash on a single sheet of laid paper, recto and verso, float mounted between two sheets of Perspex, encompassed by an off-white mount. Provenance: Peter Ward-Jackson (1916-2015).

Recto: Ornate sarcophagus with the initials DM in cartouches, ornamented with swags of fruit suspended between goat heads and birds, surmounted by a hare and a cornucopia: the tomb flanked by the study of a knee and an architectural motif.

Verso: A frieze of a Roman Triumph trophies and militaria, with a prow of a boat, an anchor, a scimitar, a plumed helmet, and a cuirass.

Sheet: 2 7/8 x 9 in. (7.3 x 23 cm.)
Mount: 9 x 14 1/2 in. (22.8 x 36.9 cm.)


Peter Ward-Jackson (1916-2015) was a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum and a leading authority on furniture, prints and drawings, particularly ornament designs.


Franco, Giovanni Battista (1498-1561)

Battista Franco Veneziano also known by his correct name of Giovanni Battista Franco was an Italian Mannerist painter and printmaker who was active in Rome, Urbino, and Venice in the mid-16th century. He is also known as il Semolei or just Battista Franco. Native to Venice, he came to Rome in his twenties. He painted an allegory of the Battle of Montemurlo now in the Pitti Palace (1537), and a fresco of the Arrest of John the Baptist for the Oratory of San Giovanni Decollato (1541). From 1545–51 he painted in Urbino. He may have been, along with Girolamo Genga, one of the mentors of Federico Barocci. His painting, in the Mannerist style, was heavily indebted to Michelangelo; but his drawings and etchings have far more verve and originality. He returned to Venice, where he helped fresco the ceiling of the Biblioteca Marciana (library). He painted a series of panels, including a Baptism of Christ (Barbaro chapel), for the walls and vault of the Grimani chapel in the church San Francesco della Vigna in Venice. He also painted the Raising of Lazarus in the Ducal palace.