Studies of Figures behind a Balustrade / Andrea del Sarto

Studies of Figures behind a Balustrade (detail), about 1522, Andrea del Sarto. Red chalk, 6 7/8 x 7 7/8 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 92.GB.74

Getty Museum curator Julian Brooks recently revealed new insights about the great Renaissance artist Andrea del Sarto in a talk related to the Getty Museum exhibition Andrea del Sarto: The Renaissance Workshop in Action.

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Julian pointed to the unprecedented realism and intimacy seen in del Sarto’s religious paintings as one aspect that set the artist apart from his contemporaries. In the words of Giorgio Vasari, “all that the figures lacked was breath.” This lifelike quality originated in del Sarto’s sketches, which evolved over the course of his career from traditional pen-and-ink drawings to abstract schematic sketches in a characteristic red chalk. In his talk, Brooks explains how this method of “reducing everything to bare form” would go on to inspire later masters such as Degas.

The talk also touches on del Sarto’s life and cites ways in which we can gain a better understanding of the elusive 16th-century Florentine master by looking to his drawings, both with our eyes and using with new technologies of the present.

Text of this post © Eleanor Jahrling. All rights reserved.