The sixteenth century may be described as the great age of Italian drawing. It was then that Giorgio Vasari asserted the primacy of disegno, hailing it as the father of the arts and the supreme expression of the artist's intellect. Raphael, Michelangelo, Andrea del Sarto, Correggio, and the Venetians Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese—all famous painters—were equally gifted as draftsmen, and their drawings have been eagerly sought and prized by collectors throughout the centuries.
The study and connoisseurship of old master drawings have long flourished in New York, where there are many splendid examples of cinquecento draftsmanship in public and private collections. This volume and the exhibition it accompanies celebrate the wealth of Italian sixteenth-century drawings in New York, especially those acquired over the last thirty years. The 124 works here catalogued belong to the Metropolitan Museum, the Pierpont Morgan Library, the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, and more than twenty private collectors.
The schools of Emilia, Florence, Genoa, Lombardy Rome, Siena, and Venice are all represented. And the particular resources of New York collections have allowed for an exceptionally rich presentation of certain artists, including the major members of Raphael's workshop, the Lombard disciples of Leonardo da Vinci, Correggio and Parmigianino from Parma, and the later Roman Mannerists. Many drawings are published here for the first time, while others appear with new attributions based on recent contributions to scholarship.
Each drawing is illustrated and is presented with a substantive discussion that places it in the context of the artist's career and explores the purpose for which it was made.