Freedom of Invention

After they learned drawing as a discipline, many sixteenth-century Italian painters, sculptors, and architects used the practice as a springboard for their imaginations. Formerly a training ground for diligent copying, paper became a brainstorming surface for artists’ experimental and exploratory ideas, swiftly set down with marks and strokes in different media. Michelangelo’s musings, made decades apart on a double-sided sheet, capture the scope of his inventive spirit, encompassing poetic fantasy and architectural design.

Next section - Stages of Design


  • 8055
    Domenico Beccafumi, Italian, 1484–1551
    Head of a Putto, 1527–37
  • 8057
    Domenico Beccafumi, Italian, 1484–1551
    Head of a Young Woman, 1527–37
  • 28130
    Domenico Beccafumi, Italian, 1484–1551
    Holy Family, 1540–1549
  • 7748
    Bertoia (Jacopo Zanguidi), Italian, 1544 - ca. 1573
    Seated Madonna and Child and Various Studies, ca. 1570–71
  • 9251
    Andrea Commodi, Italian, 1560 - 1638
    Figure Studies, ca. 1609–22
  • 6001
    Michelangelo Buonarroti, Italian, 1475–1564
    Bust of a Youth and Caricature Head of an Old Man, Both in Left Profile, ca. 1530