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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