Old Master Drawings – Guercino, Rubens, Tintoretto at Lady Lever Art Gallery, Liverpool

By Ben Miller | 25 October 2010
An image of an oil painting of a God in the skies in rich red, orange and white
Peter Paul Rubens, God Creating Adam, after Michelangelo (circa 1600). Red chalk and wash heightened with gouache and buff oil overpaint© National Museums Liverpool
Exhibition: Old Master Drawings – Guercino, Rubens, Tintoretto, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Liverpool, October 22 2010 – May 2 2011

Taking works by some of the greatest Italian Renaissance and Northern European artists produced between 1500 and 1800 as a starting point, this exhibition examines the reasons why artists use drawings to loosen their wrists ahead of painting (which is compared to "limbering up" before sporting exertions) or toy with potential ideas as part of the creative process.

"Drawing has always been at the heart of art," argues Gallery head Sandra Penketh. "It was the language of line and tones that young artists were taught to use before being allowed to paint or sculpt. We see how artists approached their work, from a humorous sketch to a highly-finished altar design."

The relative informality of sketches and doodles seems to have been a relief for some of the artists involved. Italian baroque star Guercino concocted bizarre or fantastical creatures with chicken bodies, human feet and dog’s ears, much to the disgust of some parents in the 17th century, and Rubens offers a naturalistic, animated interpretation of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel in Study for the Circumcision.

There's also a work inspired by the full-size statue of a Michelangelo tomb kept in 16th century Italian painter Jacopo Tintoretto's Venetian studio, coming as part of a show which is the first in National Museums Liverpool’s global new series of displays, Liverpool and the World.
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