Donatello, Michelangelo, Cellini: Sculptors' Drawings from Renaissance Italy

The self-portrait of Baccio Bandinelli in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum shows the sculptor pointing not to a work of marble or bronze, but to a drawing. Bandinelli was particularly proud of his skills as a draftsman, and he was prolific in his production of works on paper. This set him apart from contemporaries in his profession; many Renaissance sculptors left us no drawings at all.

This publication puts Bandinelli’s portrait in context by looking at the practice of drawing by sculptors from the Renaissance to the Baroque in Central Italy. A focus of the book will be Bandinelli’s own drawings and the development of his practice across his career and his experimentation with different media. Bandinelli’s drawings will be compared with those of Michelangelo and Cellini. The broader question considered, however, is when, how and why sculptors drew. Every Renaissance sculptor who set out to make a work in metal or stone would first have made a series of preparatory models in wax, clay and/or stucco. Drawing was not an essential practice for sculptors in the way it was for painters, and indeed, most surviving sculptors’ drawings are not preparatory studies for works they subsequently executed in three dimensions. By comparing both rough sketches and more finished drawings with related three-dimensional works by the same artists, the importance of drawing for various individual sculptors will be examined. When sculptors did draw, it often indicated something about the artist’s training or about his ambitions. Beginning with a chapter dedicated to the importance of draftsmanship in the education of sculptors, showing works by Finiguerra, Cellini Bandinelli and Giambologna, the book will be split up into chapters dealing with the various challenges sculptors faced while drawing objects in the round, reliefs, and architectural structures. A central section will focus on Bandinelli, demonstrating the importance drawing held for him while he was preparing sculptures and as an independent token of his artistry.

This exhibition catalog features full color reproduction of images seen in the newest exhibit at the Gardner Museum. Text from our curators creates a rich history and context that will enlighten readers of the fundamental questioning that sparked the endeavor of this exhibit.

Edited by Michael W. Cole
256 pages
Published by Paul Holberton Publishing, 2014
9.8 x 1 x 11 inches