Innovations in Drawing

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

Technical and artistic innovations combined to make Renaissance Venice a vital creative center. Late-fifteenth-century artists generally worked in pen and ink and wash to make relatively finished drawings, but new techniques emerged that enabled them to produce more diverse, and often dramatic, effects. Artists such as Vittore Carpaccio perfected a method of applying ink with a brush onto Venetian blue paper (carta azzurra)—a support greatly prized by Albrecht Dürer. Artists of Titian and Bordone's generation, followed by Tintoretto, preferred a soft black chalk that was ideally suited to record tonal subtleties and create impressions of movement. Jacopo Bassano's innovative use of colored chalks made him a precursor to the pastel tradition. Tintoretto's younger contemporary, Veronese, developed entire compositions with rapid pen sketches while retaining a typically Venetian preoccupation with light.