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28NADFAS REVIEW / SPRING 2010www.nadfas.org.ukrelatively expensive material, it was far cheaper than theparchment or vellum that it superseded. Vellum's greatstrength was its durability, hence its use for graphiccompendia of useful images, known as model books, thatwere assembled most commonly by north Italian artists in theearly 1400s. The notion that an artist should develop a unique style,rather than keeping true to one handed down from previousgenerations, is one facet of the burgeoning sense ofindividuality that characterises the Renaissance period. The honing of a distinctive graphic style allowed an artist tostand out from his peers, and a prime example of thisstratagem is Andrea Mantegna whose career was largelyspent at the Gonzaga court in Mantua in north Italy. Thecombination of wiry contour and dense parallel hatching in hisVirgin and Childfrom the 1480s is one that he promulgatedthrough his involvement with the new technology of engravingthat spread his fame to the wider world. Infraredreflectography that detects carbon-based media such asblack chalk has revealed Mantegna's spare underdrawing,including a different design for the Virgin's throne, unseensince he covered it over with ink. The discovery is one of agreat many made during the course of the non-invasivescientific analysis of the British Museum drawings in the show,the findings of which are presented as comparative imagesalongside the exhibited works. The purpose of Mantegna's drawing is not known since norelated print or painting survives, yet it is likely that such adetailed study was intended as a design for a finished work.Above: Study forthe background of the Adoration ofthe Magi,Leonardo daVinci (c1481)RENAISSANCE DRAWINGSA significant indicator of the rising importance of drawing isthat artists such as Pisanello and Mantegna began to producegraphic works as works of art in their own right. Nevertheless,the majority of drawings in the exhibition are working studies,and as such were never intended to be seen outside thestudio. The privacy of drawing allowed artists to indulge inflights of fancy unseen in their paintings, as can be seen in theFlorentine artist Raffaellino del Garbo's life study of a studioassistant for the pose of the Risen Christin an altarpiece.While he was drawing the model he was clearly struck by theresemblance of his lithe, boyish form to classical sculptures ofthe wine god Bacchus, and hence he depicted him semi-naked and added a garland of vine leaves around his head.The decently draped figure in the finished painting shows nohint of the artist's musings on the parallels between the RisenChrist and the sensual pagan deity. The exhibition abounds insuch insights to the thinking of some of the period's mostcreative minds, not least the magical transformation of asimple life drawing of a woman's head on one side, to anidealised vision of pensive female beauty on the other byLeonardo's master, Andrea del Verrocchio. Like a number of the artists represented in the show, suchas Antonio Pollaiuolo and the Sienese polymath Francesco diGiorgio, Verrocchio came to painting after training as agoldsmith. His principal activity as a sculptor in bronze andmarble shaped his approach to drawing, most notably in hismanipulation of light to describe surface and texture, visible inhis rendering of the complex patterns of the woman's knottedhair and the lustrous smoothness of her cheek. The sculptural

emphasis on establishing the solidity and volume of the formin space is one of the themes of the show as artists studiedsculpture to help them understand how light could be used tomake two-dimensional forms appear three-dimensional.Raffaellino del Garbo's aforementioned study illuminates theimportance of classical statuary in this process. The inspiration ofsculpture also pervades the work of Mantegna, whose formativeyears were spent in Padua while the Florentine sculptorDonatello was at work there, as can be seen in the manner inwhich Mantegna's main figures in Virgin and Child stand out,as though carved in relief against a flattened background. One of the practical aspects of drawing that comes acrossstrongly in the selection is its importance in training youngartists. The production of art in 15th-century Italy was oftencollaborative with an established artist heading a studio ofassistants of varied ages and abilities. A master needed to beable to draw in order to supply designs to guide theproduction, as can be seen in the studies made by theFlorentine painter Domenico Ghirlandaio whose assistantsincluded for a brief time in the mid-1480s the youngMichelangelo. At the same time, teaching drawing was themost effective means by which a master could shape the styleof his pupils so that their work would blend in seamlessly withhis own. The effects of this drawing-based education can beseen in the strong similarities between Verrocchio's femalehead and the same motif studied by his pupils, Lorenzo diCredi and Leonardo da Vinci. The inclusion of 10 drawings by Leonardo is a reflectionboth of his genius as a draughtsman, and the significance ofhis graphic output in the development of Italian art. Hisanalytical mind and relentless curiosity brought freshnaturalism to the depiction of the natural world, while at thesame time his desire to push the boundaries of painting tonew expressive and dramatic heights inspired the generationof Michelangelo and Raphael to achieve what he hadsketched out on paper, but rarely delivered in terms of finishedpaintings. An early instance of Leonardo's abandonment ofpaintings was the Adoration of the Magialtarpiece now in theUffizi that he left unfinished when he left Florence for Milan in1482/3. Leonardo's preparatory study for the animatedbackground of the painting is indicative of his breathtakingambition: the tight perspective grid allowing the position of theswarming figure to be plotted against the intricate architectureon the left. Characteristically, it also shows Leonardoformulating new ideas, such as the addition of steps in theforeground. The sense gained of the workings of Leonardo'sboundless, if impractical, imagination encapsulates howdrawing can transport the viewer back to share the momentof creation. For those wishing to witness such thrillingencounters with the inventive thinking of the artists whoshaped one of the most inventive periods in history, theexhibition of Fra Angelico to Leonardo: Italian RenaissanceDrawingsis not one to be missed. Hugo Chapman is the Curator of Fra Angelico toLeonardo: Italian Renaissance Drawings, which runs from22 April to 25 July at the British Museum. For more, seewww.britishmuseum.orgwww.nadfas.org.ukNADFAS REVIEW / SPRING 2010 Above:Head of aWoman, Andreadel Verrocchio(c1475). Theartist's sculpturalbackground isevident in hisconveyance ofsurface andtextureLeft: Risen Christ,Raffaellino delGarbo (c1495-7),a more daringprecursor to thefinal painting