(b. 1504, Bologna, d. 1570, Paris)

An allegorical female figure (Temperance?)

Black chalk, with yellow-brown wash, heightened with white, 212 x 159 mm
British Museum, London

This is a preparatory drawing for one of the figures of the Heroes and Virtues painted on the doors of the Cabinet du Roi in the Palace of Fontainebleau designed by Primaticcio in 1541-5. The hero accompanying Temperance may have been Scipio.

Rosso Fiorentino was responsible for the style of decoration which we connect with the school of Fontainebleau, but it was Primaticcio who created the manner of figure drawing which was to become the most recognizable characteristic of French painting for the rest of the sixteenth century. This he achieved during the decade after his visit to Rome and the death of Rosso, in which period he planned some of the most important decorations at Fontainebleau, many of which have unfortunately been destroyed.

The panels for the Cabinet du Roi decorated between 1541 and 1545 and known from drawings are still in the tradition of Giulio Romano, for example, the present drawing reminds one of the seated allegorical figures in the Sala di Constantino. But the decoration of the Chambre de la Duchesse d'Étampes, planned in the same year, is entirely original.