Learning from the Masters: how to look at Italian Renaissance drawings
This slideshow will help you to: examine the drawings in detail analyse the techniques used in drawings consider the reasons for drawing in the Renaissance think about why drawings are so important in the development of Italian Renaissance art Learning from the Masters: how to look at Italian Renaissance drawings
During these two slideshows, think about these important questions: Is it a quick drawing? How ‘finished’ is it? What materials did the artist use? How has the artist created a sense of light and shade? How has the artist created a sense of depth? What was the drawing for? Who was the intended audience?
What was Italy like in the 15th century? What do you notice about this map of Italy? Italy was not united but made up of republics, duchies and kingdoms. Two of the most important regions were the Republic of Florence and the Republic of Venice. These wealthy cities had many patrons of the arts. Republic of Florence Wealth: banking, wool trade Patrons: Medici family, rich banking families, church Republic of Florence Wealth: banking, wool trade Patrons: Medici family, rich banking families, church Republic of Venice Wealth: trade with the East Patrons: the Doge, Senators, scuole (confraternities), merchant families, church Republic of Venice Wealth: trade with the East Patrons: the Doge, Senators, scuole (confraternities), merchant families, church Although politically divided, people in Italy shared a common language, enabling artists to travel and ideas to be communicated.
What kinds of drawing techniques has the artist used? Throughout the 15th century, artists sought to depict the world around them with greater realism, so the painting would become an extension of this world. This was achieved through: - Effects of light and shade: used to suggest solidity and shadow (tone, hatching, washes) - Understanding of perspective Practising drawing and learning from other artists was crucial in this.
Examine the similarities and differences in these drawings… Both artists use cross hatching to achieve different effects with the folds of the drapery. Spinelli concentrates on lines created by the cloth, in particular the spiral effect of the folds. Michelangelo uses a less defined line but creates a sense of depth with his shading to form a more solid, three-dimensional figure. Similar composition: a figure draped in cloth but the effect is very different. Why?
Creating a sense of space Many Renaissance artists wanted to add a sense of reality in their pictures – one way to do this was by creating the illusion of figures standing on flat ground. How is this achieved? Perspective lines, which met at the ‘vanishing point’ gave a mathematical structure to drawings. Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Study for the background of the Adoration of the Magi, around 1481, Metalpoint, pen and brown ink, brown wash, touches of lead white heightening, over stylus and compass incising, on cream preparation, Uffizi, Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe, 436 E In this drawing, Leonardo has meticulously drawn in all the lines to create the sense of space onto which to draw the scene and plot where the people should be.
Creating a sense of space Pietro Perugino (around 1450–1523) Adoration of the Magi, around 1480-90, Leadpoint, pen and brown ink, British Museum 1853,1008.1 Artists in the 15th century perfected this skill and practising through the increased use of drawing on paper was vital. They became skilled at creating a sense of perspective without mathematical gridlines as Perugino has done here. Although the perspective is not precise, the architecture helps to create a sense of space. Technically able artists were able to sketch quickly and depict three- dimensional scenes on the flat page.
Working out how the world worked Attributed to Paolo Uccello (c. 1397–1475), A chalice, around 1450-70, Pen and brown ink, over ruled stylus and compass points, Uffizi, Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe, 1758 A During the Renaissance, artists applied these mathematical principles to explain the world around them. The artist Uccello was fascinated by the new technique of perspective – in this drawing he has used 2,000 intersecting points to work out the structure of a chalice.
What might the drawing be intended for? How do you know? Michelangelo (1475-1564), Recto: Figures and a battle scene, around 1503-4, Pen and brown ink, British Museum 1895,0915.496 Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), Bust of a warrior, around 1475–80, Silverpoint on cream preparation, British Museum 1895,0915.474
This is a carefully finished silverpoint drawing. It was probably used as a gift or as a demonstration piece. Leonardo da Vinci Bust of a warrior, around 1475–80
Cavalry battle early study for fresco of Battle of Cascina. Look for the outlines of the horses. Male nude figure 90° rotated. Same pose of male figure with drapery this time. Both studies for the sculpture of an apostle. We can see Michelangelo developing his ideas on paper in this drawing.
Michelangelo: designing for different media Study for a Corinthian capital to go on top of a column Charcoal nude drawing for fresco of Battle of Cascina (never painted) Studies for sculpture of Virgin and Child Robed figure and figure leaning, probably for statues (similar figure to previous slide) Michelangelo was a master of several different art forms, including sculpture, painting and architecture. What do you think these designs might be for? Study for sculpture of Virgin and Child. Notice how a drawing of around two centimetres forms the basis of this finished sculpture. Michelangelo (1475-1564), Figure studies and a capital, around 1503-4, Uffizi, Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe 233 F
What was the artist trying to do in this drawing? Antonio Pollaiuolo (c. 1432– 98), Recto: St John the Baptist, ?1470s, Pen and brown ink and black chalk, Uffizi, Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe 699 E Different positions for the right hand Experimentation with the figure Different positions and poses for left hand Different positions for the feet A sense of emotion in the facial expression
Becoming a painting 1. Raphael (1483–1520), Recto: The Entombment, around 1506, Pen and brown ink, over black chalk and stylus, British Museum:1855,0214.1 3. Raphael, The Entombment, oil on panel, Villa Borghese, Rome, 1507 2. Raphael (1483–1520), The Entombment, around 1506, Pen and brown ink, over black chalk, squared in stylus and red chalk and then pen and ink, Uffizi, Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe, 538 E
Raphael did 16 studies for the final painting. Examine the similarities and differences between the two studies and the final version.
1. Was this a quick drawing? Using all that you have learned, examine the drawing and answer the questions: 2. What materials were used? 3. How have effects of light and shade been achieved? The wash has been applied in different ways, sometimes with small strokes. 4. What might the drawing have been intended for? As the composition shows a completed scene, you can tell it is unlikely to be design for a sculpture. It is the sketch for a painting of St Augustine for a small scuola or confraternity in Venice. Vittore Carpaccio (?1460/66-1525/6). The Vision of St Augustine, around 1501-8, British Museum 1934,1208.1
Checklist for examining drawings: Is it a quick drawing? How ‘finished’ is it? What materials did the artist use? How has the artist created a sense of light and shade? How has the artist created a sense of depth? What was the drawing for? Was the drawing meant to be seen outside the studio?