Renaissance Original Drawings

The History of Renaissance Art and Renaissance Original Drawings


The era of Renaissance art and Renaissance original drawings can be categorized into three periods; the Early Renaissance (1400-1490), the High Renaissance (1490-1530), and Mannerism (1520-1600) and produced some of the finest drawings in history.

According to Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574) the Florentine painter and art historian, drawing is the father of all fine art. His comments came towards the end of an intellectual debate on whether sculpture or painting was the superior art form. Vasari was expressing the eventual consensus that drawing was the foundation both. Both drawing and design, embrace the formulation of the idea in the artist's head, as well as how it is expressed on paper.

Jacopo Tintoretto

Lot 721: Jacopo Tintoretto (1518-1594) "An Apostle Writing"

Renaissance original drawings included a range of reusable items, such as erasable wooden tablets, parchment made from goat, pig, or calf skin, paper, linen and canvas. The instruments artists used to create their works, ranged from the simplest stylus, which is a thin metal stick that leaves a scored indentation pattern, to metalpoint, which is like the stylus, but made from softer metal that left a visible mark. Overall, metalpoint was the most popular preliminary drawing instrument. Pen and ink drawings were popular as well, made using quill or reed pens. Lot 721: Jacopo Tintoretto (1518-1594) "An Apostle Writing"

Gregory Pagani An Apostle's Vision of The Infant Christ

Lot 720: Gregory Pagani (1558-1605) "An Apostle's Vision of The Infant Christ"

Drawing instruments like stylus, metalpoint and pen are usually classified as fine line media. Renaissance chalk drawings were usually executed with black or red chalks. Chalk was particularly popular due to its smudging and blending qualities, which enabled artists to create a wide range of tones. Charcoal was also used in drawings, but very few examples have been preserved due to how easily erasable charcoal is. Lot 720: Gregory Pagani (1558-1605) "An Apostle's Vision of The Infant Christ"

Giovanni da San Giovannii

Lot 719: Giovanni da San Giovannii (1592-1636) "Un Suona Tore Di Violino"

During the late fourteenth century, artists began to use paper more and more to explore their ideas for the design of paintings. This exploratory type of drawing offers a vivid and intimate glimpse of the artist creatively thinking. When contracts were drafted, artists were often asked to include a drawing as an attachment, for more clarity in the the design or layout that was expected by any stakeholders. These were often carefully modeled with pen and ink and were fairly complete. Lot 719: Giovanni da San Giovannii (1592-1636) "Un Suona Tore Di Violino" 

Jacques Callot

Lot 722: Jacques Callot (1592-1635) "Self Portrait"

In preparing a composition, artists first drew quick sketches, usually in pen and ink, in which they formulated general ideas rather than focused on details. For example, Leonardo DaVinci combined an exciting array of ideas for different projects. There was a figure of Hercules, which was probably intended for a sculpture. Lot 722: Jacques Callot (1592-1635) "Self Portrait" 

Carlo Maratta

Lot 718: Carlo Maratta (1625-1713) "Head of a Young Man"

In the next steps, artists investigated the poses of the figures from life models. The earliest such extant studies date from the first years of the fifteenth century. Using the medium of silverpoint on pink prepared paper to obtain delicate tonal effects, Filippino Lippi asked a male assistant to pose, and stand in for the figure of a bound Christ or Saint Sebastian, in order to observe the figure’s true form. Artists then integrated the results of studying the figures from life models into a summary design of the composition, in order to pull together the figural arrangements with the lighting effects and setting. Lot 718: Carlo Maratta (1625-1713) "Head of a Young Man" 

As a final step, artists drew what we would classify as cartoons. A monumental cartoon by Francesco Salviati, was done with black chalk and white highlights in the final size of the figure in the fresco painting. The outlines around the figure are incised with a stylus for the transfer of the full-scale design onto plaster.