Drawings have the remarkable ability of revealing an artist’s innermost thoughts. The gestures of an artist’s hand can remain quick and immediate on a drawing, as in the simple yet powerful and strategically-placed lines of George Romney’s little sketch of two figures (lot 79). Yet they can also be slow, studied and meticulous as in the exquisite, highly-finished portrait of a young man and his horse by George Nikolaus Ritter (lot 62). Drawings such as Bartolomeo Passarotti's study of a horse (lot 1), or the whimsical fantasy figures from Bellotto’s circle (lot 38) skilfully create volume, depth and the impression of life with a surprising economy of means, using only pen and ink with occasional touches of a brush dipped in coloured washes. Drawings also allow us to witness an artist planning out a larger work, capturing and reiterating a pose or aspect of the composition (lots 28, 66 & 49). The lines and marks an artist makes on a sheet of paper are traces of an intimate moment - a moment of contact between the interior world of artistic imagination as it is first externalised and conveyed out into our world by the artist’s hand.
Combined with a growing interest in anatomical study, the development of art academies in Italy during the sixteenth century gave way to an abundance of life drawings of the human body. As such, these drawings can be seen to articulate the idea that the human form stood at the centre of the world - the body was the conveyor of a grand, divine design. It comes as no surprise, then, that in studying and skilfully depicting the human body artists were staking a claim in some of this divine creativity. The precious little sketch by the late-mannerist artist Cristoforo Roncalli, called ‘Il Pomarancio’ (lot 14), depicts a child reaching out to hold the hand of another figure outside of the scene, his body pivoting elegantly around the hips. As the years went on, artist continued to experiment with different stylisations of the human form (lots 19 & 24). An aspect of mannerist extravagance persisted into the eighteenth century in Francesco Monti’s superb drawing of a male model (lot 31). Known for his studies of male nudes created with black and white chalks on paper prepared with a dark-grey background, the sheet in the present sale is one of the finest to have ever appeared on the market.
CRISTOFANO ROBETTA (FLORENCE 1462 - 1535)
The Adoration of the Kings
Extensively inscribed on the verso in abbreviated Latin. The mysterious inscription, almost certainly done in an early 16th-century hand, may be a receipt or inventory for housekeeping. It begins with the date ‘May 15…’.
£700 - £1,000