This post contains a drawing in Prismacolor® pencils that was copied from a work in chalk by the Italian artist Giovanni Battista Piazzetta. That is some name, isn’t it? I counted twelve syllables. There seem to be a lot of Italian names that are of similar complexity. I feel bad for all the Italian school teachers that had to do a roll call every day. I hope they got paid overtime. I just realized how corny my sense of humor is. I have been in denial for so long. Anyway, I know a lot of you are not familiar with the name Giovanni Battista Piazzetta. I am not either but I will do some research on behalf of both of us.
I have been in denial for so long.
The following information has been taken from the Virtual Uffizi website which refers to itself as the unofficial website of the Uffizi museum in Florence, Italy. Giovanni Battista Piazzetta’s drawings and paintings were noted for their Rocco style, with subtle coloring and rounded forms of religious and genre subjects. His father was a sculptor, and Piazzetta studied woodcarving with him before studying painting with the Venetian Baroque painter, Antonio Molinari. Molinari along with the Bolognese painter, Giuseppe Crespi, and the Emilian artist, Guercino all had a big impact on Piazzetta’s work. Even though Piazzetta did not receive many commissions throughout his career, he also illustrated books with drawings to pay the bills. His illustrated work is reminiscent of Rembrandt’s paintings. In all his works, Piazzetta created complex scenes where the subject was never obvious, and his characters were immersed in more than it seemed. The subjects he created would take on several different meanings. Piazzetta also added melodramatic features and had a reputation for being a darker artist than his Venetian contemporaries. Much of his later years were spent teaching, and although not wealthy, Giovanni Battista Piazzetta was a well-respected artist.
If you would like to see a facsimile of the original which is housed in the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa then by all means click here.
This next blog post is a drawing of a female nude sitting on a stool copied from a work by Rembrandt. Also known as Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rhijn Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rhijn, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Rembrandt van Rijn. Thank you to the Art Institute of Chicago for not only housing the drawing we are referring to but for also providing us the variations of his name just in case we didn’t recognize the name Rembrandt. I was totally confused when I saw the drawing was done by someone named Rembrandt. I always called him Haremszoon or simply Harmensz. I think most people make that simple mistake.
I always called him Haremszoon or simply Harmensz.
As I mentioned before, the original drawing is on display at the Art Institute of Chicago. Which if I remember correctly is some kind of art institute that is located in or around the Chicago metropolitan area. Sometimes instead of just regurgitating some information I haphazardly found on the web, I like to express my own knowledge about art and the world around myself and the world around art which would be I would guess the same world. If you have ever been to the Art Institute in Chicago and had the time or inclination to visit the drawing department you might have seen it. At the time of this post however it is not on view so you will have to wait. Sometimes it is out on loan to a major museum in a major city. If you live in a small town like Margate, Florida then it is highly unlikely that you will see this drawing. If fact it is highly unlikely that you will see any major work of art. If you want to see lots of bad copies of old master drawings then just stop by my place.
The next drawing on my old master copy marathon is a graphite pencil drawing of a foot. If it does not look like a foot then I have failed unless I wanted to confuse you then I succeeded. If I was trying to confuse you about what the drawing was but you could tell it was a foot then I have failed. My drawing is a copy of a work done in chalk by the 17th century Italian Master Domenico Zampieri or as he was known, Domenichino. Domenichino means little Domenico because, according to my well researched research he was a small guy. Yet he was a giant when it comes to 17th century painting. From the 17th through the 19th centuries, he was considered one of the greatest painters of all time, second only to Raphael. Domenichino studied art in Bologna under Annibale Carracci and became Carracci’s favorite student and assistant.
Domenico Zampieri, I feel strange calling him Domenichino, maybe he didn’t like that nickname. Moving on, Domenico was an excellent draftsman who carefully studied nature as well as ancient sculpture and then idealized his forms making them nearly flawless. He also created idealized landscapes that later influenced the great landscape painters such as Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin. Domenichino was also a talented musician and architect. He was also incredibly well read. He believed art is a type of poetry. Some of his greatest work is at The Church of St. Louis of the French which is a Roman Catholic church in Rome, and also the The Last Communion of Saint Jerome altarpiece which can be found in the Vatican. Later in his life he was bullied by younger and perhaps jealous artists and he is believed to have committed suicide because of it.
My next offering is a copy of drawing done by the Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens sometime between 1617-18. The Victoria and Albert Museum where the drawing is displayed describes his work as a study of a nude man that is in a recumbent position and then trying to raise himself up and that seems to confirm what we see. But wait there’s more. There are also two studies of legs, that are in a kneeling position. The original drawing was done in black chalk with touches of white. I drew my copy with various graphite pencils. Actually just two different pencils, I just don’t remember which ones they were. One was light and the other dark. There are drawing pencil sets with several different types of pencils but I personally find it difficult to keep track of when to use each one so I usually only use two. I hope you had as much fun reading about pencils as I have writing about them. Just in case you can have too much of a good thing, let’s move on.
The original drawing was a study for the painting “Miracles of St. Francis Xavier”, which is a large altarpiece that is on display at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. The subject in the drawing is not St. Francis but some ‘regular joe’ that is raising from his grave or perhaps he is being healed from the bubonic plague. Maybe he died of the plague and then St. Francis Xavier brought him back from the dead or he was still alive and want to sit up to see what all the commotion was about. Different websites have different ideas about what is actually going on with that pale fellow. But one thing we do now it that he is a man who is in the presence of St. Francis Xavier and that is something in and of itself.
Pictured above is a copy of a study of legs by Jacopo Pontormo. I drew mine in graphite pencil on Strathmore paper while the original by Pontormo was done in red chalk. I had mentioned earlier that I do not care for the scratchiness of chalk and I believed I talked about Jacopo Pontormo. Just in case you didn’t know about Pontormo, he was born in 1494 in Empoli, Italy. He was taught by numerous great painters including Leonardo da Vinci and became an important artist in the Sixteenth century. He help develop the expressive style of Mannerism. His work also became a big influence on the later Baroque style, influencing artists like his own student, Bronzino. Pontormo was also greatly admired by other artists at the time. Michelangelo Buonarroti happen to see a painting that Pontormo had done he said “This young man [age 19] will be such an artist, based on what can be seen, that if he lives and continues on, he will exalt this art to the heavens.” High praise indeed. This quote was taken from the “Lives of the Artists” written by Giorgio Vasari. He goes on to write about Jacopo Pontormo’s character. He states that Pontormo was a quite unique person. He was so afraid of death that he didn’t even want to hear it discussed. Varasi also states that he would run away from having any contact with dead bodies but is that really that unique or different. Perhaps in 16th century Italy people loved to hang around dead bodies. Apparently Pontormo would also avoid crowds and kept to himself. He also put so much thought into his work that some days he would just stand and think without painting anything. However he was able to create anything he put his mind to.
The next old master copy is of a black chalk drawing by Michelangelo Buonarroti. However, there is some doubts about whether it was actually drawn by Michelangelo himself. The drawing is a study for the central part of a fresco of the ‘Battle of Cascina’. Unfortunately, the work was never realized which I guess means it was never started or perhaps it was started and never finished. In the book I copied the drawing, it says it was done in black chalk. The British museum, where it is on display, states that it was done in pen and brown ink, brown and gray wash, and then heightened with white over leadpoint and stylus. It also states that the white is somewhat discolored. So either the book titled “Anatomy Lessons From the Great Masters: 100 Great Figure Drawings” is being overly simplistic or the British museum is being very British. It is really hard to say. Wait a second, I think I found out what the confusion is about. The drawing at the British Museum says the it was an experiment with different mediums that didn’t work out very well. It goes on to say that Michelangelo created other studies of the same subject in black chalk. I know what your thinking. I am writing about the wrong drawing. And you would be correct in your thinking. But in all fairness it does look very similar to the one I copied. Nonetheless, I made my copy with a pencil or to be more exact, a few different types of pencils. Moving on. The fresco was to celebrate the ‘Battle of Cascina’ and was to be displayed on a wall in the Great Council’s Florentine Room of the Palazzo Vecchio. Leonardo da Vinci was suppose to paint another work on the other side of the room to celebrate the ‘Battle of Anghiari’ which was another victory for the Florentine army. Leonardo’s painting was done with an experimental method that failed and was unable to be salvaged. Speaking of salvaged, I am unable to salvage this poorly written blog post.
Next up we have another male nude figure seen from the back. It is a drawing done in graphite pencils on 9″ x 12″ Strathmore paper. The original by Taddeo Zuccaro is about 17 in. x 11 in. and was done in red chalk and highlighted with white gouache (which is somewhat similar to watercolor).
Taddeo Zuccaro was born around the year 1540 in Sant’Angelo in Vado. He moved to Rome to study painting at the age of 14 and at 17 started studying under the master Correggio. He was an excellent draftsman and eventually became famous from his frescoes of historical themes.
This just isn’t your day.
The subject of the original, created in 1550, is a male nude drawn by life but is also somewhat based on the style of the ‘Horse Tamers’ which is a group of Roman sculptures on the Quirinal Hill. The original drawing is done in a naturalistic style but also distorted somewhat in the style of Michelangelo. Not only did Taddeo Zuccaro admire Michelangelo but Michelangelo in turn admired the young Taddeo Zuccaro for his skills as a draftsman. The nude figure study is similar to one he drew in which a soldier is holding the reins of a horse in the foreground of the composition. Both works were done as preparatory work for a fresco that decorated a Roman Palace. According to the description by the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the fresco is now lost. I don’t know how you lose a fresco or a palace. I should do some more research, although it might be more interesting to you and less work for me if I didn’t do anymore research on the frescoes and created some mystery. However, I did find out that the original drawing by Taddeo Zuccaro is in the collection of the Metropolitan but unfortunately is not on view. So you aren’t able to see it. And the other drawing that is similar to that one is in a private collection. So you can’t see that one either. I’m not sure what I did with the copy of it I drew so you can’t see that at the moment either. This just isn’t your day.
Next up on the old master copy marathon, we have another work after the Italian Renaissance master Luca Signorelli, who created his drawing in red chalk and colored wash. The medium colored wash is rather vague. I can’t just go to Blick Art Supply store and ask for colored wash. It could be embarrassing. Anyway I did mine in pencil. I think like a number 2 pencil and maybe a darker one. That is rather vague as well. I have talked somewhat about Signorelli in my last post so I think I’ll write about the Museé Bonnat which houses the original drawing. According to the internet the museum is temporarily closed. Is it because of the Covid pandemic? or remodeling? or perhaps something more sinister is going on? Let’s investigate.
It could be embarrassing.
The Musée Bonnat art museum was opened in 1901 in Bayonne, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France. It is named after the hometown painter, Léon Bonnat. Bonnat donated his collection of paintings as well as a large number of drawings to the City of Bayonne. This doesn’t explain why the museum is closed. So I consulted a 2019 entry from Wikipedia and DBpedia. The DBpedia might just copy information from Wikipedia or perhaps the other was around. Anywho, the Museé Bonnat closed it’s doors in April of 2011 for an extension renovation. The project will double the size of the art museum. It says the work will begin in early 2018 and then will open towards the end of 2019. So that explains why the museum is closed now. Wait, it does not explain that. It also doesn’t explain why the museum would close in 2011 if the renovation wasn’t going to even start until 2018. So I thought I would visit the actual Museé Bonnat website which is where I should have probably started by investigation. Apparently the museum will remain closed to the public until 2024. So if you are the public and would like to see the drawing by Signorelli you will have to wait a few more years but since you have already waited 10 years I guess is won’t seem like that much longer. If you want to see my copy, you can stop by anytime, I’ll put out some chips and salsa.
This next post is a graphite drawing of Hercules and Antaeus copied from a work in black chalk by Luca Signorelli. Signorelli who’s full name is Luca d’Egidio di Ventura de’ Signorelli, was referred to as Luca da Cortona because he was from, you guessed it, Cortona, Italy. According to my research, Signorelli was born sometime between 1445 and 1450. So apparently the record keeping was not very good in Cortona or women spent incredibly long periods in labor. Signorelli died in Cortona on October 16, 1523, so apparently record keeping greatly improved during his lifetime or perhaps deaths were considered more important than births. I’m not trying to judge anyone’s culture. I’m just trying to keep an open mind. I mean they know the exact date of his death but… I’m going to have to move on from this.
Luca Signorelli was known for his frescoes, most notably the series based on the end of the world in the Orvieto Cathedral. These frescoes were even praised by Michelangelo, whom he greatly admired. Signorelli worked in an intense and dramatic style. Raphael admired and was influenced by his work.
I’m just trying to keep an open mind.
Now let’s talk about Hercules and Antaeus of the ever popular Greek mythology. I have said this before but it bears repeating. I often start to doze off when I read or write or even think about any type of mythology so I’ll try to keep this brief. The giant Antaeus was the son of Gaea, the goddess of earth and Poseidon, the god of the sea. Antaeus was considered invincible due to the fact that his strength was renewed when his feet touched the ground. He would often challenge strangers to fight him. Kind of like those guys that still live at home and take martial arts classes all day then go out at night and pick fights with people. You know the type. Getting back to Mythology. One day Antaeus got into a fight with Heracles, who figured out that Antaeus got his strength from touching the earth. So Hercules lifted Antaeus from the Earth then crushed him to death. Wild stuff indeed.