GIROLAMO DA CARPI (Ferrara c.1501 – c.1556 Ferrara)

Girolamo da Carpi

Girolamo da Carpi (Ferrara c.1501 – c.1556 Ferrara)

Study for an Altarpiece, with a panel of the Madonna and Child, together with a study of an allegorical female figure

Pen and brown ink, grey wash, 152 x 125 mm (6 x 4.9 inch)

Private collection (possibly the Comte de Menthon), Paris


Born as Giorlamo Sellari, the artist was the son of the d’Este’s court painter and decorator in Ferrara and received his alias of Carpi after his father’s region of origin. He is recorded by Vasari to have trained in the studio of Benvenuto Tisi, called Garofolo, but Girolamo’s existing works show the influence of Raphael, Correggio and especially Dosso Dossi, rather than his presumed master. In the 1520s Girolamo visited Rome and Bologna and was inspired by the Mannerist style. He returned to Ferrara and collaborated with Dosso Dossi and Garofalo on commissions for the d’Este family. Girolamo became the architect to Pope Julius II in 1550 and supervised the remodeling of the Vatican’s Villa Belvedere. Returning to Ferrara, he was charged of the enlargements of the Castello Estense.

In the present drawing Girolamo skillfully drew a design for an altarpiece with the Madonna and Child and subsidiary figures, framed in a highly imaginative surround with supportive figures, festoons and dolpins. The allegorical figure at the left may have been connected with the same scheme, which remains unidentified.
A comparable drawing by Da Carpi which shows similar handling and is inscribed with the artist’s name and the date 1531 in an early hand is preserved in the print room of the Uffizi, Florence (fig.).1

We are grateful to Nicholas Turner for suggesting the attribution.


1. Pen and brown ink, 271 x 189 mm; Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi, inv. no. 1708 E; M. Di Giampaolo (ed.), Disegni Emiliani del Rinascimento, Milan 1989, no. 47, pp. 106-07, repr.