Figures on Paper

Old Master Drawings from the 16th to the 19th century

31 March – 9 April 2022

Cortona Fine Art, Milan Italy

Exhibited Art

Edited by Luca Giunta Baroni

It is therefore convenient that he [the artist] creates the figures for the intended composition in a fierce way, with movement and vigour... so that the art is always accompanied with a graceful easiness and neat loveliness of colours

The words by Giorgio Vasari, premised to his famous Lives of the most excellent Painters (ed. 1568) and included in the so-called Theoretical introduction (X V : What is dr awing), seem particularly suitable for introducing the selection of fourteen sheets collected by the Cortona Gallery on the occasion of the spring exhibition Paper figures.

From the Venetian 16th century to the Lombard 19th century, the drawings have a common topic: the representation of the human figure, variously presented in a kaleidoscope of shapes, colours and materials. As pointed out by Vasari, many of these sketches are characterised by 'movement and vigour', providing the eye with a pleasant spectacle.

This is the case, for example, of the lively circle of flying cherubs imagined by the Milanese artist Giovanni Stefano Danedi, Montalto for the decoration of a ceiling; or of the plastic poses, enhanced by the use of red chalk, given to the virile bodies sketched by Ercole Procaccini the Younger and by a gifted master active in the circle of Carlo Maratta.

There are nostalgic sheets, inspired by the style and techniques of the masters of the past: see, e.g., of the pen sketch in which Giuseppe Bossi pays homage to the Renaissance sketches of Madonnas by Leonardo or Raphael, and the enigmatic black chalk head by neoclassical artist Pietro Fancelli that attest the artist’s interest towards the 18th century tradition of Tiepolo and Gandolfi.

Finally, there is a landscape and a few more serious historical scenes, among which the large, and sadly topical, sheet depicting the Reception of refugees in the city.

The selection ends with the 'paper figure' par excellence, Arlecchino, who truly embodies the ‘graceful easiness and neat loveliness of colors' evoked by Vasari. Disguised as a postman, he is covered with gifts to celebrate, with his joyful red shoes, the birthday of distinguished lady.