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  • fleur-de-lis within double circle with pommel
    Type: watermark
    Location:
    Materials:
  • James Bowdoin III( Collector, Boston) - 1811.
  • Bowdoin College Museum of Art( Museum, Brunswick, Maine) 1811- . Bequest
  • Mannerism in Prints and Drawings
    • Bowdoin College. ( 2/28/1984 - 4/9/1984)
  • Old Master Drawings at Bowdoin College
    • Bowdoin College Museum of Art. ( 5/17/1985 - 7/7/1985)
    • Clark Art Institute. ( 9/14/1985 - 10/27/1985)
    • University of Kansas. ( 1/19/1986 - 3/2/1986)
    • Art Gallery of Ontario. ( 5/17/1986 - 6/29/1986)
  • Baroque Drawings
    • Bowdoin College Museum of Art. ( 2/3/1981 - 3/5/1981)
  • A Selection of Italian Drawings from North American Collections
    • University of Saskatchewan, Regina. ( 1/16/1970 - 2/15/1970)
    • Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. ( 3/5/1970 - 4/3/1970)
  • Modes of the Masculine and Feminine in Art, 1500-1700
  • Prints/Drawings & Drawings/Prints, 1500-1800
    • Bowdoin College Museum of Art. ( 8/4/2009 - 9/20/2009)
Type: catalogue
Author: Henry Johnson
Document Title: Catalogue of the Bowdoin College Art Collections
Publ. Place: Brunswick, Maine
Reference: no. 86
Remarks: (as Unknown)
Section Title: Pt. I, The Bowdoin Drawings
Date: 1885

Type: catalogue
Author: Bowdoin College Museum of Art
Document Title: Bowdoin Museum of Fine Arts, Walker Art Building
Edition: 4th
Publ. Place: Brunswick, Maine
Reference: no. 86
Remarks: (as Unknown)
Publisher: Bowdoin College
Section Title: Descriptive Catalogue of the . . .
Date: 1930

Type: exhibition catalogue
Author: David P. Becker
Document Title: Old Master Drawings at Bowdoin College
Publ. Place: Brunswick, Maine
Location: pp. 88-89
Reference: no. 40
Remarks: (as Taddeo Zuccaro)
Publisher: Bowdoin College
Date: 1985
			
		

Taddeo Zuccaro came to Rome in 1543 or 1544 and studied the many monuments and paintings there, as recorded in a series of drawings depicting events in his life by his younger brother Federico (1540/41-1609).1 He began receiving commissions, including one from Pope Julius III, and was called to Urbino in 1551 to help decorate the cathedral there. He made a journey north to Verona in 1552 and was back in Rome the next year. Taddeo spent the rest of his brief career in or near Rome and executed decorations in the Vatican and Farnese Palaces in Rome and Caprarola.

Attributions of drawings by the Zuccaro brothers have frequently been interchanged; this sheet was first attributed to Federico by Vitzthum. Recently, however, both Turner and Pouncey felt it to be Taddeo's. Gere affirmed this attribution, without being able to connect it with a specific project.2

The identification of the subject presents some difficulty. The poses and number of the figures certainly resemble Hercules choosing between Virtue and Vice, but the male figure has neither club nor lion skin, the traditional attributes of Hercules. His depiction as a slight youth without attributes is comparatively rare, though certainly not unprecedented.3 The veiled woman presumably represents Virtue, while Vice has thrown off her veil to tempt the young man. The Choice of Hercules was an extremely popular theme during the Renaissance and occasionally was used as an allegory for the choice open to a young prince contemplating marriage or the inheritance of the realm. Federico Zuccaro used it as an allegory of the artist's struggle to achieve glory.4

The technique of the Bowdoin drawing is typical of Taddeo, with the pen outlines, accents, and delicate wash. There are considerable chalk pentimenti under the pen lines, most apparent in the area of the young man's left arm. Unfortunately, the sheet has suffered fading and deterioration of the paper by the ink, but it can be compared with similar studies in the Rosenbach Foundation, Philadelphia; the British Museum; and the Louvre.5

1. Gere 1969, pp. 28-29.

2. In conversation with the author, June 1983, from a photograph.

3. See E. Panofsky, Herkules am Scheidewege (Berlin, 1930), pls. 53, 61, for instance.

4. See K. Herrmann-Fiore, "Die Fresken Federico Zuccaris in seinem römischen Kunstlerhaus," Römisches Jahrbuch für Kunstgeschichte, vol. 18 (1979), esp. pp. 47-54.

5. Gere 1969, pls. 44, 105, 134-36.

Commentary credited to David P. Becker (or not otherwise captioned) appeared in his catalogue Old Master Drawings at Bowdoin College (Brunswick: Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 1985).