Italian Drawings from the 15th to the 19th Century

Italian Drawings from the 15th to the 19th Century

Italian Drawings from the 15th to the 19th Century

Italian Drawings from the 15th to the 19th Century

Excerpt

Drawing formed the basis of most of the art of the Renaissance. In the centuries covered by the group of reproductions in this book Italian drawing partook fully of that great European movement. Many collectors and critics have said that both drawing and painting went into the doldrums after Guardi (in the eighteenth century). Here then, we see only the splendid conclusion in Guardi's Venice of a long tradition that began in Verona and Florence in the late fourteenth century.

Despite the loss of over 90 per cent of the drawings produced in those centuries we still have a great legacy, larger numerically than that in almost any other field of activity outside the areas of multiple production--printed books, fine prints and pottery. Such a collection as follows is a choice of choices, containing, obviously, many tried-and-true favorites and a few genuine novelties and surprises. Although the editors might have chosen different and equally good examples from the same master's hand it would not have caused me to alter what I want to say about some of these Italian draughtsmen and their drawing in general, its purposes and methods.

Almost all the drawings in this book are preliminary studies to ampler works in painting, occasionally in sculpture, architecture, or even such a relatively minor art as embroidery. Ordinarily they are drawn on paper which is not completely covered by the artist's handwork--as, for example, the canvas is covered in an oil painting or the paper in many modern water colors. Within the broad embrace of drawings selected for this book are great varieties of workmanship and intention.

In the painting of much of our time there has been an art to conceal art --that is, the paint was applied in such a way that the beholder does not readily see on the surface how the effect was produced. This is not so in drawing where the handwriting-like method and instruments leave the process exposed to the eye.

Why does anyone draw? We all scribble from time to time. Given the will . . .

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