PENNI, Giovan Francesco
(b. ca. 1496, Firenze, d. ca. 1528, Napoli)

Jacob's Dream

1516-19
Pen and brown ink, with brown wash, heightened with white, over black chalk, squared for transfer, 197 x 262 mm
British Museum, London

The drawing is a finished study for the fresco in the ceiling of the sixth bay of the Vatican Loggia frescoed by Raphael's studio in the period 1516-19. A large number of Raphael's assistants under the direction of Giulio Romano worked on the project including Penni, Perino, Polidoro and Tomasso Vincidor. The finished drawings preparatory for the Old Testament scenes painted on the vault have generally been assigned to Penni, although it is thought that he was working from preliminary studies supplied by Raphael himself.

The thirteen-bay Loggia of Leo X designed by Raphael and executed by a team of assistants and specialists was an innovatory scheme of great richness that had an incalculable influence on many different areas of later art. It combines a pseudo-antique setting of decorative frescoes and stuccoes, much inspired by the Golden House of Nero, with an extensive biblical cycle. Its vaults contain fifty-two small frescoes comprising forty-eight scenes from the Old Testament and four from the New Testament The execution of the vault frescoes, probably datable 1516-1517, is by a number of different young artists. They are listed by Vasari, but, according to him, all worked under Giulio Romano's control to Raphael's designs. However, the visual evidence suggests that the supervisor was not Giulio but Raphael's other major pupil, Giovanni Francesco Penni.