Andrea Schiavone, An Archer Seen from Behind

Artist | Andrea Schiavone 
Date | 1550–1560 
Medium | Black and white chalk on discoloured blue paper  
Dimensions | 183 x 119 mm 
Institution | National Galleries of Scotland 
Credit line | David Laing Bequest to the Royal Scottish Academy transferred 1910 
Theme | Composing Space and Creating Action 
Museum number | D 1764 

Andrea Meldolla, called Schiavone (ca. 1500–1563), was born in modern-day Croatia in the town of Zara, Dalmatia, which was a Venetian colonial city until the end of the eighteenth century. What we know of Meldolla’s career has been shaped by the writing of Carlo Ridolfi (1594–1658), Marco Boschini (1602–1681), Paolo Pino (1534–1565) and Giorgio Vasari (1511–1574), who, in the 1568 edition of Le vite, mentioned Schiavone in the biography of Venetian artist Battista Franco (1510–1561). The Tuscan proponent of disegno commissioned a battle scene from Schiavone in 1540 or 1541. Schiavone employed the materials of chalk and/or dark wash and white heightening throughout his drawn oeuvre, in concert with tonal papers like the faded blue paper seen here, in compositions which reflect the tonality of his drypoint prints. These colouristic effects are also evident in Schiavone’s paintings, in which forms are delineated through tonal transitions rather than line. In this drawing of an archer, sometimes referred to as Apollo, the dynamism of the figure is reinforced by the blending of chalk and white heightening, as well as the pentimenti in the figure’s left hand and the bow he holds. The drawing is closely related to Schiavone’s depiction of Arcas Hunting, with some differences in pose, in the National Gallery, London.