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God the Father

Reference URL

God the Father 1552 - 1554

Not on display

This drawing is a preparatory study for a painting of the Baptism of Christ that was commissioned for the Venetian church of San Francesco della Vigna, and is still in its original location. The picture was ordered by the wealthy Venetian nobleman Daniele Barbaro around 1552-4. For Franco, this commission was immensely important as he had just returned to his native city from Rome and needed to establish his reputation as an artist. Here, the influence of Franco’s studies of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes is evident in the monumental figure of God the Father. Franco’s combined use of three coloured chalks to form one figure is unique among his surviving drawings.

Glossary Open


When an individual or organisation employs an artist to execute a particular project, the process and the resulting work are termed a ‘commission’.


A wall painting applied to fresh, wet plaster so that the coloured pigment is absorbed into the surface of the wall.

Commission, Fresco


  • Acc. No. D 1590
  • Medium Black and red chalk, heightened with white, on blue paper
  • Size 29.20 x 24.30 cm
  • Credit David Laing Bequest to the Royal Scottish Academy transferred 1910