“So animated and so lifelike”. Pontormo’s drawings
One of the 16th-century’s greatest draughtsmen, Pontormo has left us a considerable number of drawings illustrating the development of his style and revealing both the sources from which he drew his inspiration and his own contribution to Florentine draughtsmanship. Twelve drawings cover his formative years, demonstrating his skill in conveying reality with immediacy, particularly during his Poggio a Caiano and Certosa years: the apprentice sleeping on the workshop steps illustrates this talent beautifully. The drawings also evoke works impossible to display here either because of their size (the Santa Felicita Deposition and Annunciation) or because they have been lost (the Souls Rising Out of Purgatory and the Flood evoke his works in the choir of San Lorenzo). Finally, it is fascinating to track the creative process from drawing to finished work in the Study for the Christ Child in the Pucci Altarpiece, the Pontorme St Michael and the Carthusian monk in the Supper at Emmaus, all on display here.
Drawings of “bold and well-grounded” Rosso
A keen experimenter, Rosso has left only a few drawings to illustrate his study of Florentine tradition and his skill in using prints as a means of circulating his free and unconventional figurative style in the rest of Europe. Eleven drawings from different periodss in his life, allow us to track the development of his style from Florence early in the century to his work at the court of France. Rosso turned to the art of Michelangelo for his inspiration, adding a powerfully abstract note occasionally concealed by the sumptuous approach to decoration that he had learnt in Rome. His preparatory study for the figure of St Sebastian in the Dei Altarpiece, completed shortly before he left for Rome, and the feet in the Study for a Seated Nude, probably drawn after he first saw Michelangelo’s figures on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, are no longer depictions from life but a pure product of his imagination.