Stages of Design

By the early sixteenth century, many Italian artists followed a codified preparatory process in carrying out commissions for altarpieces, ceiling decorations, and buildings. This section is devoted to drawings that functioned as studies for specific projects, many of which are still extant. In conceiving such works, an artist often began his design with rapid brainstorming sketches (called schizzi or, later, primi pensieri, meaning “first thoughts”), such as Jacopo Zucchi’s cryptic draft for an allegorical composition. These were followed by studies of individual figures or groups of figures (called studi), which were often squared for transfer, as in Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo’s double-sided sheet of studies for a cupola decoration. The process culminated in finished drawings (or modelli) like Giuseppe Passeri’s elaborate ceiling design, intended to be shown to the patron for approval.

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  • 8047
    Federico Barocci, Italian, 1535–1612
    Studies for Saint Sebastian, ca. 1592–96
    x1948-598
  • 8048
    Federico Barocci, Italian, 1535–1612
    Studies for Saint Sebastian, ca. 1592–96
    x1948-599
  • 4802
    Vittore Carpaccio, Italian, 1460/66–1525/26
    Verso after Erhard Reuwich, German, fl. 1475 - 1500
    Two Standing Women, One in Mamluk Dress, 1501–08
    x1944-274
  • 55344
    Annibale Carracci, Italian, 1560–1609
    Study for the Choice of Hercules, ca. 1595–97
    2008-43
  • 8214
    Pietro da Cortona (Pietro Berrettini), Italian, 1596 - 1669
    Study for the Age of Iron, 1637
    x1948-772
  • 10064
    Donato Creti, Italian, 1671 - 1749
    Studies for Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, 1720s
    x1959-34
  • 6295
    Carlo Dolci, Italian, 1616 - 1686
    Study for Saint John the Evangelist, 1671
    x1948-1283
  • 12911
    Battista Franco, Italian, 1498/1510–1580
    Dead Christ supported by an Angel, ca. 1552–55
    x1975-241
  • 8802
    Antonio Gionima, Italian, 1697 - 1732
    The Departure of the Prodigal Son, ca. 1719
    x1951-112
  • 6003
    Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo, Italian, 1538 - 1600
    Study for a prophet, 1565–71
    x1947-136
  • 7930
    Girolamo Macchietti, Italian, 1535 - 1592
    Seated male nude with arms outstretched, ca. 1570–72
    x1948-579
  • 55343
    Carlo Marchionni, Italian, 1702 - 1786
    Design for the chapel of Saint Ferma, ca. 1752
    2008-42
  • 10993
    Flaminio Innocenzo Minozzi, Italian, 1735 - 1817
    Design for the Ceiling of the Salone d’Onore in the Hercolani Palace, Bologna, ca. 1797–98
    x1968-193
  • 50323
    Amedeo Modigliani, Italian, 1884 - 1920
    Two studies for sculpture head in profile to left, ca. 1912–13
    x1948-387
  • 15420
    Pasquale Ottino, Italian, 1578–1630
    Seated male nude: Study for the Raising of Lazarus, ca. 1614–20
    x1984-330
  • 14524
    Jacopo Palma, Italian, 1548–1628
    Study for the Funerary Monument of Girolamo Canal, ca. 1577
    x1981-118
  • 50861
    Giuseppe Passeri, Italian, 1654 - 1714
    Ceiling Design: Virgin Mary of Carmel with the Christ Child in Glory, attended by Angels, 1700s
    2006-96
  • 13794
    Perino del Vaga (Pietro Buonaccorsi), Italian, 1501 - 1547
    Study for the Fall of the Giants, ca. 1528–33
    x1977-119
  • 52856
    Gaetano Previati, Italian, 1852 - 1920
    The Monatti, illustration to Alessandro Manzoni’s I Promessi Sposi, ca. 1895–99
    2007-16
  • 19141
    Roman
    Torso of youthful Dionysos, ca. 125 A.D.
    y181