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Study for the Ascension of Christ

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Title Study for the Ascension of Christ
Material and technique Black chalk, heightened with white, on grey-brown paper
Object type
Drawing > Two-dimensional object > Art object
Location This object is in storage
Dimensions Height 387 mm
Width 272 mm
Artists Artist: Leandro Bassano (Leandro da Ponte)
Previously attributed: Jacopo Bassano (Jacopo da Ponte)
Accession number I 53 (PK)
Credits Loan Stichting Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (former Koenigs collection), 1940
Department Drawings & Prints
Acquisition date 1940
Creation date in circa 1578-1622
Inscriptions '10' (verso, above centre, pen and brown ink), '25' (verso, below right, pencil, underlined)
Collector Collector / Franz Koenigs
Mark C.D. Ginsburg (L.1145), F.W. Koenigs (L.1023a)
Provenance Christian D. Ginsburg (1831-1914, L.1145)****, Palmer’s Green (GB); - ; Franz W. Koenigs (1881-1941, L.1023a), Haarlem, acquired in 1925; D.G. van Beuningen (1877-1955), Rotterdam, acquired with the Koenigs Collection in 1940 and donated to Stichting Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen **** None of the collector's auction catalogs available in visited libraries and used online databases
Exhibitions Amsterdam 1934, no. 486; Rotterdam 1938, no. 37; Amsterdam 1953, no. T 2
Research Show research Italian Drawings 1400-1600
Literature Amsterdam 1934, no. 486 (Jacopo Bassano); Rotterdam 1938, no. 37 (Jacopo Bassano); Tietze/Tietze-Conrat 1944, no. 150 (Jacopo Bassano); Amsterdam 1953, no. T 2 (Jacopo Bassano); Arslan 1960, no. I-222, fig. 263 (Francesco Bassano il giovane)
Highlight > Painting technique > Technique > Material and technique
Geographical origin Italy > Southern Europe > Europe
Place of manufacture Venice > Veneto region > Italy > Southern Europe > Europe

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Entry catalogue Italian Drawings 1400-1600

Author: Esmé van der Krieke

Leandro Bassano, 'The Ascension of Christ', undated, oil on canvas, 208 x 120 cm, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels. Photo d'art Speltdoorn & Fils, Brussels

Christ looks up, with his arms outstretched. One of the stigmata can be recognized in his right hand. The drawing was done in black chalk applied with powerful movements. Some lines have been reinforced in Christ’s right shoulder and in parts of his robe. The artist paid particular attention to the effects of shadow and depth in the draperies; the figure’s head and hands have been treated more sketchily.

Opinions about the attribution of this drawing differ in the literature. Tietze/Tietze-Conrat (1944) attributed the sheet to Jacopo Bassano (1510-1592), but Arslan (1960) gave it to Jacopo’s son Francesco (1549-1592).[1] From 1560 onwards, Jacopo ran the family workshop, where he often created compositions that his four sons Francesco, Giambattista (1553-1613), Leandro (1557-1622) and Girolamo (1566-1621) worked up or adopted. They all continued to make paintings in the specific style of the workshop until they died, which makes it difficult to recognize their personal hands.[2] This is also true of the many surviving drawings, apart from Jacopo’s, which can be identified as rapid, loose and powerful, and Francesco’s, which are more narrative and controlled.[3] With its strong, flowing lines, the Rotterdam drawing has the characteristics of the former, and this would certainly seem to make Arslan’s attribution to Francesco groundless. ­

However, these authors overlook the fact that the drawing is a preliminary study for a painting attributed to Leandro Bassano: The Ascension of Christ (fig.).[4] The similarities, published here for the first time, are unmistakable. In the painting an identical Christ rises, with the same fluttering robe, outstretched hands and eyes focused on heaven. This Christ figure hovers in a sky split asunder, while the twelve disciples, the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene look on full of astonishment. The painting can be traced to the Bassano family thanks to a seventeenth-century print that is part of the Theatrum Pictorium.[5] This print is based on a painted copy of Bassano’s painting by David Teniers the Younger (1610-1690) and bears the inscription ‘Bassano iunior. P.’.[6] That the inscription in this case most probably refers to Leandro appears from two other paintings by him: the Trinity with Saints in Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Venice and the painting of the same title in St Mark’s Cathedral on the island of Korčula in Croatia.[7] The disciples are shown in the same way in these works.

Leandro Bassano is regarded as Jacopo’s most talented son, who followed his father’s style closely,[8] which means that the loose, forceful lines in the Rotterdam drawing could equally well be in Leandro’s hand. Moreover, the strikingly heavily reinforced lines and the worked up robe in this specific drawing correspond with other drawings attributed to Leandro, such as his Study of Two Pages in Rotterdam and his Study for an Altarpiece in London.[9] Although we cannot completely rule out the possibility that Leandro worked on an existing study by his father Jacopo in preparing his work, it is highly likely that Leandro himself is the maker of this drawing, which served as a study for his painting The Ascension of Christ. Since we do not know when the painting was made, the Rotterdam study remains undated.


[1] Tietze/Tietze-Conrat 1944, p. 51, no. 150; Arslan 1960, p. 222, fig. 263.

[2] Corsato 2010, p. 41.

[3] Fischer 2018, p. 54.

[4] Brussels, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, inv. 255.

[5] Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. RP-P-2014-60-128.

[6] The relationship between the print and the Rotterdam drawing is acknowledged in Tietze/Tietze-Conrat 1944, p. 51, no. 150; Amsterdam 1953, no. T 2, p. 75. The painted copy is in London, Wallace Collection, inv. P635.

[7] Arslan 1960, p. 236, figs. 277 and 279.

[8] Fischer 2018a, p. 54.

[9] Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, inv. I 60; British Museum, inv. Ff,1.72.

Show research Italian Drawings 1400-1600
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Leandro Bassano (Leandro da Ponte)

Bassano 1557 - Venetië 1622

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