Collecting And Connoisseurship

When conceived as preliminary studies, Italian drawings often did not survive after the related project was completed. Some, however, were passed to family members or students or acquired by collectors. One of the first such collectors was Giorgio Vasari, who considered his multivolume Libro dei Disegni (Book of Drawings)—featuring elaborately mounted works by artists ranging from Giotto to draftsmen of his time—to be an extension of his Vite (Lives of the Artists). Subsequent collectors, including Padre Sebastiano Resta, Jonathan Richardson Sr., and Pierre-Jean Mariette, built on Vasari’s example, adding their own marks to those made by the draftsmen whose work they acquired, employing handwritten inscriptions, custom-made mats, and personalized stamps. Stamps were also used by two Princetonians, former Museum director Frank Jewett Mather Jr. and Dan Fellows Platt, Class of 1895, whose gifts and bequests of Italian drawings, made in the 1930s and 1940s, form the foundation of the Museum’s collection.