Italian Journey

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The Handwriting of Artists and the Dating of Their Drawings: The Case of Parmigianino

Program information

In conjunction with An Italian Journey: Drawings from the Tobey Collection, from Correggio to Tiepolo, Professor David Ekserdjian talks about tracking the master Renaissance draftsman, Parmigianino, through the phases of his artistic career. Throughout history, it has been held that one artist's work can be distinguished from another's by "artist's handwriting"—that is, his distinctive way of drawing. Ekserdjian is also concerned with the way Parmigianino formed his letters—in fact, the artist employed three very different writing styles at different stages in his career. The professor contextualizes Parmigianino's work, talks about the ideas contained in his writings, and traces his evolution as an artist, all by following the footprints in his handwriting.

David Ekserdjian, professor, Department of the History of Art and Film, University of Leicester.

Learn more about Parmigianino:

An Italian Journey

Drawings from the Tobey Collection, Correggio to Tiepolo

May 12–September 19, 2010

Accompanied by a catalogue

Over the past twenty years, Julie and David Tobey have assembled one of the preeminent collections of Italian Old Master drawings in private hands. Ranging across the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, this exhibition, consisting of approximately seventy drawings, covers all the principal centers of Italian art—Florence, Rome, Naples, Bologna, Parma, Venice, Genoa, Milan—and features masterpieces by a distinguished roster of great draftsmen, among them Correggio, Bernini, Guercino, Guido Reni, Canaletto, and Tiepolo. Impressive in its variety, the gamut of subject matter includes figure studies, historical and mythological narratives, landscapes, vedute, botanical drawings, motifs copied from or inspired by classical antiquity, and designs for painted compositions.