Sketched in time


The wealth of drawings in the Smart Museum's exhibition Master Drawings from the Yale University Art Gallery charts 400 years of European artists' creative evolution. The exhibit's 84 pieces, a mere five percent of Yale's total drawings collection, display a stream of experimentation flowing from 1480 to 1863.

Although European monastic illustrations flourished in the Middle Ages, exhibit notes point out that few artists sketched before the 15th century. The notes argue that a booming paper industry after Gutenberg's invention of movable type combined with the Italian Renaissance's emphasis on virtú, the creative or unique character of man, led to an explosion of artistic play and discovery.

French, Italian, German, Dutch, and Spanish artists used ink, charcoal, and chalk to experiment with styles and themes. In his Sheet of Studies (c. 1519–1522), Baccio Bandinelli, a Florentine artist working in the wake of Michelangelo, used hatching, a shading technique, to draw the bold, inky shadows on a classical man. One hundred thirty years later, Flemish master Jacob Jordaens demonstrated the Baroque concern with color, detail, and the secular in his study A Goat (c. 1657).

The exhibition closes January 2008.

Ethan Frenchman, '08

Photo: Baccio Bandinelli, Sheet of Studies, c. 1519–22, Pen and brown ink on beige paper. Yale University Art Gallery, Gift in memory of Henry S. Chase and Rodney Chase; Jacob Jordaens, A Goat, c. 1657, Red, black, and yellow chalk, with touches of red and brown wash, heightened with white. Yale University Art Gallery, Everett V. Meek Fund.

October 26, 2007