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image P36

John Flaxman (1755 - 1826)

Copy of two heads from a fragment of a cartoon of the Massacre of the Innocents designed by Raphael.


Oil and tempera on paper

Height: 39.4cm
Width: 53.4cm

Inscription: None

Museum number: P36

Curatorial note

This copy must have been made some time between the acquisition of the original cartoon fragment by Flaxman in 1779 and Flaxman's presentation of it to his friend the painter John Saunders (also known as Sanders) of Bath, who died in 1825.

Provenance help-art-provenance

This work is a copy of a fragment from one of the cartoons painted by Giulio Romano and his workshop in the Netherlands for 12 tapestries of the Life of Christ commissioned for the Vatican on the orders of Pope Leo X. The complete provenance of the original cartoon fragment is published in Timothy Clifford 2000, op. cit. It was bought by the sculptor John Flaxman at the Duke of Argyle's sale, Langfords,1779. The original fragment is today in the National Galleries of Scotland. The fact that this copy of the fragment was made by Flaxman is recorded in MS in the hand of George Bailey, Soane's chief clerk and the first Curator of his Museum, in his copy of the 1835 Description of the Residence of Sir John Soane RA. His MS footnote, p. 16, reads 'That with the two heads (No. 36) is a Copy by the late John Flaxman RA (as I have been informed by Miss M. Denman his sister-in-law) of part of a Cartoon by Raphaele. G.B.[George Bailey]'. It was given to Sir John Soane by Maria Denman (Flaxman's sister-in-law, who inherited most of his collection after his death) in 1826 between 1832 (when it is not mentioned in the 1832 edition of Soane's Description of his house) and 1834-35 (it is mentioned in Soane's last published Description the text of which was prepared at that time).


Gunn, W., Cartonensia or an historical and critical account of the tapestries, 1832.
Soane, Description, 1835, p.16.
Timothy Clifford, Designs of Desire: Architectural and Ornament Prints and Drawings 1500-1850, exhibition catalogue, National Galleries of Scotland, 2000, p.54.
New Description, 2007, p.31.

If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk