The Power of Old Master Drawings

From Luca Cambiaso to Pelagio Palagi

4 December – 19 December 2020

Cortona Fine Art, Milan Italy

Exhibited Art

Edited by Luca Fiorentino

The art historian’s profession is one of fascinating discovery, travel and meticulous study. As I see it, comparison is one of the foundations of investigation regarding art works, and it may be assiduously pursued by scholars, collectors and gallery owners as well. The gallery run by Enrico and Federico Cortona, as many readers know, is one of the places where this is the case.

Old Master drawings and paintings, sculptures and illuminations fill the rooms of the Cortona gallery-studio, in a ‘rationally jumbled disorder’ perhaps more typical of a fervent collector than a modern gallery owner. Objects that are a testimony to the research and time dedicated to their analysis, often through discussions and exchanges of ideas with scholars, collectors and fellow antiquarians.

After lengthy reflection, Enrico and Federico Cortona and I have chosen nineteen drawings that are not only magnificent art works of great rarity and quality, but also represent our passion for works on paper, and for the fanciful inspirations that these concrete yet ethereal objects transmit. Many of them can be compared with finished works of which they are the respective models; others are initial ideas and studies that were never intended to be shown to patrons, as they were only meant to serve the artist’s own needs and fancies; still others – only a few of those presented here – have no established paternity as yet, although the relative catalogue entries suggest possible paths to pursue in that sense.

To discover means to gain knowledge of something previously unknown. With this catalogue, we aim to reveal to the public important drawings, like the two by Tiepolo (one of which a preparatory sketch for Palazzo Clerici in Milan), the Luca Cambiaso with its stereometric style for Palazzo Grimaldi della Meridiana in Genoa, the Gandolfi sheet, and the evocative witchcraft scene by Domenico Guidobono; neo-classical drawings of immense formal refinement (see the sheets by Pelagio Palagi and Andrea Appiani); and as yet anonymous works that maintain the arcane fascination of a still uncertain identification.

I am sure that readers will find the selection we have chosen an interesting and engaging way to contemplate and better understand the vast variety of methods and stylistic and technical means that artists of the past invented to put their creative ideas on paper.

Please contact the gallery if you want a copy of the catalogue in print.