Study of a Right Hand by Francesco Vanni


Francesco Vanni

Siena 1563 – 1610

Study of a Right Hand

Black chalk. Numéroté au crayon (2. 485) 841.

118 x 96 mm – 4 5/8 x 3  3/4 in.



Provenance: Jacques Fryszman, his mark lower right (L. 4946) and his inscription on the backing sheet: étude p. la main gauche de l’apôtre agenouillé en-dessous du Christ ds le tableau de la Transfiguration à Höglwörth près de Reischenhall.  Numéroté au crayon (2. 485) 841.


Born in Siena where he studied with Arcangelo Salimbeni, his father in law, Vanni left for Bologna and Rome where he worked with Bartolomeo Passarotti and Andrea Lilio. Francesco Vanni was also greatly influenced by Federico Barocci, whose habit to execute oil on paper modelli he adopted. He received numerous commissions for religious works, among which Saint Michael Fighting Rebel Angels for the sacristy of San Gregorio, a Pietà for Santa Maria in Vallicella, and an Assumption for San Lorenzo in Miranda. Back in his native town in the 1590s, he led a successful career, working for numerous churches and active as an engraver.  His son Raffaello Vanni was also a painter.



This study of a hand is typical of the artist. In spite of its small dimensions, it possesses an unusual visual and expressive power, which indicates a master draughtsman. With its long, thin and contracted fingers, the hand is drawn in black chalk. Shadows and movement are suggested by vigorous hatching and strong outlines. This graphic way can be observed on many other sheets by the artists, such as for example, Saint Catherine of Siena meditating et Draped Seated Woman, Facing Right, holding out her arms  both in the Louvre museum (INV 2020 and 33649). One of the former owners of this drawing, Jacques Fryszman, had also attributed this drawing to Vanni and thought it was preparatory for the hand of an apostle of the Transfiguration located in the church of Höglwörth (Germany). Rarely illustrated, this altar painting was published by Dr Peter Anselm Riedl in an article Salzburg und Siena (Salburger Museums, Juin 1977, n° 38) in which he established the relation between the painting and two preparatory drawings preserved in the Siena Biblioteca Comunale. 



The hand of the kneeling apostle with which Jacques Fryzsman made a connection is a left hand. Although it actually does not entirely correspond to the hand on this drawing, which is a right hand, they are indeed very close and share similar expressiveness and strength.  But our hand can also be compared to Augustus’s hand in the painting Augustus and the Tiburtine Sybil (Siena, Monte dei Paschi Bank collection) or Lazarus in The Raising of Lazarus, painted on a catafalque panel by Vanni in 1585 (Siena, Monte dei Paschi Bank collection).


Condition report – The sheet is pasted at the four corners on a larger sheet.  A small and ancient horizontal fold in the paper on the left edge. Slight foxing on the upper part. 

Framing options

Pas de cadre, Cadre Louis XVI plat Or (4cm), Cadre Louis XVI plat Noir et Or (4cm), Cadre inversé (3,3 cm) teinté ébène, Cadre Louis XVI or (3cm)