The great masters of the italian renaissance are well known through their frescoes, sculptures and paintings in tempera or oils, but their drawings are generally less familiar. And yet it is through drawings that we come closest to the artists and see the creative process at work.
This beautiful book showcases 112 superb drawings by Italian artists of the 15th and 16th centuries. Taken from the pre-eminent collections of the British Museum, the Louvre and other French museums, they range from meticulous compositions in metalpoint to sweeping chalk studies. Most were made as preparatory designs for paintings, exploring the human figure or drapery, experimenting with the arrangement of groups of figures or working out architectural details. Occasionally, portraits or landscape sketches were made as works in their own right, for sheer pleasure or as gifts.
In her introduction the author explains the role of drawing in the work of Italian Renaissance artists and looks in detail at the materials and techniques they used. The second part of the book features outstanding examples by more than forty masters, including Michelangelo, Leonardo, Botticelli, Raphael, Verrocchio, Andrea del Sarto and Correggio. These are accompanied by a concise sketch of the life and work of each artist. Arranged chronologically, they reveal stylistic and geographical trends as well as personal interactions between the artists themselves, providing an extraordinary insight into the artistic world of Renaissance Italy.
Dr Claire Van Cleave is a freelance writer and lecturer on Renaissance art and a specialist on the drawings of Luca Signorelli.