Knowledge of the materials and techniques of drawing—as well as the methods and materials of papermaking—often is essential to determining the country, artist, and workshop from which a drawing originated. Of the more than one hundred Italian drawings in this exhibition, most are executed in pen and brown ink, further analysis would likely reveal that the ink is iron gall, an acidic black ink that eventually turns brown with exposure to air. Other drawings in the exhibition are executed in black or red chalk (or a combination of the two), both of which are naturally occurring and contain clay, which makes the material relatively soft and easy to use. Black chalk was used for some early Italian drawings, and it would not be until the fifteenth and sixteen centuries that red chalk was favored by such artists as Leonardo da Vinci, who exploited the medium for its atmospheric effects.

Next section - Drawing as Discipline


  • 13689
    Pierfrancesco Alberti, Italian, 1584–1638
    An Academy of Painters, ca. 1600
  • 6050
    Moretto da Brescia, Italian, 1498 - 1554
    Cherub’s Head, ca. 1530
  • 57944
    unknown Italian artist
    Girl Drawing a Profile, and Four Heads of Youths, ca. 1600–10
  • 5369
    Girolamo dai Libri, Italian, 1474/75 - 1555
    Christ the Redeemer with a Worshipper, ca. 1500
  • 12770
    Agostino Masucci, Italian, 1690–1768
    Head of a Bearded Man, Looking Up, 1740s (?)
  • 6006
    Lelio Orsi, Italian, 1508 - 1587
    Design for the Façade of Casa Orsi, ca. 1570s
  • 12837
    Gregorio Pagani, Italian, 1558 - 1605
    Youth Carrying a Staff
  • 42514
    Bartolomeo Pinelli, Italian, 1781 - 1835
    Brigands under Siege, 1832
  • 42502
    Polidoro Caldara, called Polidoro da Caravaggio, Italian, 1499 - 1543
    Study for Saint James Major, ca. 1535–39