Autonomy of Expression

When not tethered to the preparatory process for altarpieces or palatial decorations, Italian artists made drawings as a distraction, often taking inspiration from literary or historical sources. Increasingly, the worlds of nature and everyday life became the focus of the artist’s imagination, as highlighted in Guercino’s remarkable caricatures. The growing status of drawing as an autonomous and collectible work of art is evident in several examples, including the highly finished pair of devotional images by Bartolomeo Passarotti, made as a gift or on commission.

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