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Renaissance Venice: Drawings from the Morgan
May 18 through September 23, 2012

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Livy (Titus Livius Patavinus)
Historiae romanae decades (Roman History)
Printed on vellum by Vindelinus de Spira in Venice, 1470
Opening: Illuminated Page with the Coat of Arms of the Venetian Donà Family
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan with the library of Theodore Irwin, 1900; PML 266

Livy's Historiae romanae decades was one of the first classical Latin texts to be printed in Venice. The book and chapter headings, at the top in gold, were added by a trained scribe. Woodcut patterns that served to guide the miniaturist were stamped into the margins after printing and appear underneath the intense green vine motifs contrasting with gold ground of the painted borders. The blue soldier in Roman armor with an outstretched arm represents the letter F, thus providing the initial for the first word on the page, Facturus.


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Bartolomeo Montagna (Orzinuovi, near Brescia, ca. 1449–1523 Vicenza)
Drunkenness of Noah
Pen and brown ink, blue and purple wash, over traces of black chalk, on vellum
Inscribed at lower right, in pen and brown ink, albordür[er] [i.e., Alberto Dürer].
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909




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Andrea Palladio (1508–1580)
I quattro libri dell'architettura (Four Books on Architecture)
Printed by Dominico de' Franceschi in Venice, 1570
Opening: Plan and Elevation of Villa La Rotonda
Gift of Paul Mellon, 1979; PML 76057

The architect Andrea Palladio's literary masterwork, the treatise I quattro libri dell'architettura, begun in 1555, profoundly influenced Western architecture.

This illustration presents a plan and an elevation of Palladio's Villa La Rotonda, just outside Vicenza. The design is for a completely symmetrical building with a square plan around a central circular hall with a dome. Each of the four facades has a portico.


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Giovanni Antonio de Sacchis (Il Pordenone) (ca. 1483–1539)
Conversion of St. Paul, early 1530s
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, heightened with white gouache, over traces of black chalk, on blue paper faded to green gray
10 3/4 x 16 1/8 inches (272 x 410 mm.)
Gift of J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1924; I, 70

This drawing is the modello for a well-known painting by Pordenone, now lost, that must have impressed critics and artists alike through the virtuosity of its radically foreshortened figures and its splendid sense of movement and energy. It spawned several copies, Pordenone repeated sections of it for Venetian collectors, and Tintoretto used it as inspiration for a painting of the same subject (National Gallery of Art, Washington).

Pordenone's composition adapted elements from a tapestry cartoon of the same subject by Raphael, which was displayed in the house of Cardinal Domenico Grimani in Venice.


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Girolamo Romanino (1484/87–ca. 1560)
Pastoral Concert with Two Women, a Faun and a Soldier, early 1530s
Red chalk
9 13/16 x 16 1/8 inches (249 x 410 mm.)
Gift of Janos Scholz, 1973; 1973.37

To complete his education and attracted by the innovations of Giorgione, Romanino went to Venice, where Albrecht Dürer's Feast of the Rose Garlands and paintings by Giorgione and Titian proved to be a lasting influence on his work.

Following a tradition founded by Titian and Giorgione, the theme of music intermingled with love in a pastoral landscape became popular in northern Italy in the early sixteenth century. This is one of three drawings by Romanino of musical groups with a faun, which are usually associated with frescoes the artist painted in Trent around 1531–32.


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Giuseppe Porta, called Salviati (1520–1575)
Bellerophon Killing the Chimera
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, heightened with white gouache, over black chalk, on blue paper faded to gray brown; squared in red and black chalk
10 7/8 x 9 1/8 inches (275 x 232 mm.)
Gift of Janos Scholz, 1973; 1973.42

Porta left Rome with his master, Francesco Salviati—whose name he later assumed—and arrived in Venice in July 1539. In that year he executed his most important commission in fresco, an ambitious ceiling for the Sala dell'Anticollegio in the Palazzo Ducale, which was destroyed by fire in 1574. Although he did not develop a pronounced individual style, Porta is partially responsible for bringing central Italian Mannerism to Venice.

This drawing is thought to be the study for a lost fresco painted on the facade of Nicolo Bernardo's house in Campo di San Polo, Venice.

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Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.