About this artwork

This drawing is a preparatory study for a painting of the Baptism of Christ that was commissioned for the Venetian church of San Francesco della Vigna, and is still in its original location. The picture was ordered by the wealthy Venetian nobleman Daniele Barbaro around 1552-4. For Franco, this commission was immensely important as he had just returned to his native city from Rome and needed to establish his reputation as an artist. Here, the influence of Franco’s studies of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes is evident in the monumental figure of God the Father. Franco’s combined use of three coloured chalks to form one figure is unique among his surviving drawings.

  • title: God the Father
  • accession number: D 1590
  • artist: Battista FrancoItalian (about 1510 - 1561)
  • depicted: God
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • subject: Christianity Religious
  • materials: Black and red chalk, heightened with white, on blue paper
  • date created: 1552 - 1554
  • measurements: 29.20 x 24.30 cm
  • credit line: David Laing Bequest to the Royal Scottish Academy transferred 1910

Battista Franco

Battista Franco

Although born in Venice, Franco was in Rome by the time he was twenty. There he made drawings after the Antique treasures that filled the city, but he also fell under the spell of Michelangelo and made numerous drawings after the master’s work. In addition to being a fine draughtsman, Franco was also an accomplished painter and printmaker. He often produced prints of his own designs using either etching or engraving, or sometimes a combination of both. Much of his career was spent in Rome and Urbino, but around 1552 he returned to Venice where he lived for the last decade of his life. He is sometimes known by the nickname ‘Il Semolei’.