Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Drawing - A sacrifice

A sacrifice

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:


  • Date:

    mid 16th century

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pen and ink and wash on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H, case PD, shelf 103

This drawing shows a scene of sacrifice with women draped all’antica offering to a statue of Terminus before a brazier. Subject matters drawing from Antiquity and the pagan world became the hallmark of the imagery developed at Fontainebleau, France, during the 16th century, by a group of Italian mannerist artists who deeply influenced French art. The art developed at Fontainebleau includes all sorts of media such as fresco paintings, sculpture and more traditional easel paintings. The development of printmaking also contributed to disseminate this style that was then applied to a wide range of works, from architecture to jewellery.

Physical description

Four draped women sacrificing to a triple-headed terminal figure (Terminus) placed before a brazier.

Place of Origin



mid 16th century

Materials and Techniques

Pen and ink and wash on paper

Marks and inscriptions

Unidentified collector's mark "W. Han.." (possibly W. Hanka; see Lugt 1240)


Height: 25.5 cm, Width: 42.6 cm

Object history note

Unidentified collector's mark "W. Han.." (possibly W. Hanka (1791-1861); see Lugt 1240); purchased from R. Jackson (dealer) as part of a lot of 34 drawings, 22 July 1880.

Historical context note

This drawing was formerly acquired as by Francesco Primaticcio (1504/05-1570), and was subsequently attributed by A. E. Popham to his assistant in Fontainebleau Léonard Thiry (act. 1536-1550).

It shows a mythological scene of sacrifice, this subject drawn from the pagan world and the mythology is typical of the imagery developed by the School of Fontainebleau, France, during the 16th century by a group of Italian mannerist artists including Rosso Fiorentino, Niccolo dell’Abate and Francesco Primaticcio. Although very close in style to Primaticcio’s drawings after the Antique, the drawing was probably not made by the master but is probably the work of a close follower.

D. Cordellier associates this drawing with a group of drawings showing motifs from the Antique, respectively ascribed to Fantuzzi, Davent, Rosso and Primaticcio (Cordellier, 2004). None of these drawings can be firmly attributed though.

According to Zerner, a very close engraving of similar dimensions (and in the same direction) is the work of Léon Davent c. 1546, after an original work by Primaticcio (Bartsh, 33, p. 205 and Zerner, LD 61). The original work however has never been found. Davent’s work is difficult to identify as only one of his engravings, The Apostles Contemplating Christ and the Virgin (1546; Zerner, L.D. 55) after Giulio Romano, bears a full name, ‘Lion Daven’. All the others have merely the monogram ‘L.D.’, under which his work is usually catalogued.

Davent reproduced principally the works of Francesco Primaticcio, and is considered by some as the finest engraver of the school of Fontainebleau. Very little is known about his life and career, and he is sometimes confused with the Flemish engraver Léonard Thiry also active in Fontainebleau at the same time. Davent made engravings from 1540, turning to etching c. 1543–4. Herbet attributed 221 plates to him, Zerner only 98.

Descriptive line

Drawing, A sacrifice, by a close follower of Primaticcio, school of Fontainebleau, mid 16th century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

D. Cordellier ed., Primatice, maître de Fontainebleau, exh. cat., Paris, 2004, p. 145 note 56.
C. Jenkins, The Fontainebleau school of printmakers, PhD, Oxford, 2003.


Paper; Ink




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.