Today for art history class, we climbed all the way up to the fourth floor of the British Museum to enter the Print and Drawing Study Room. It houses some amazing materials, and you need to register to enter. After some brief signing-in and rules explanation (including no cameras, which saddened me greatly…) we were ushered into the large room.
It was a large room filled with volumes and large folios. Immense wooden desks with easels lay ready for the invaluable drawings and other works to be placed upon them for closer examination. The smell of old ink and paper, better than the best library, permeated the air. The quiet, still air lent an atmosphere of near-reverence to the room. It was almost as if one could feel the weight of the historical treasures that surrounded us.
Our course today focused on the evolution of commission drawings. We started with early works, including some stock drawings by Benozzo Gozzoli, which were designed to be placed cookie-cutter-style into commission drawings, creating a fairly standardized picture. The pieces at the end, by artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were much more fluid and sketchlike, allowing the artist to craft a scene creatively, rather than dropping in stock pieces.
It was incredible and surreal to be mere inches from works from the Renaissance masters. This class has been an incredible experience so far. Not only do we get to see magificent works by famous artists all the time, but I am also learning so much about what to look for in art. I am learning so much new information about everything, and I am loving it!
Gozzoli (c. 1450)
da Vinci, (c.1470)
Reference drawing for Sistine Chapel's Creation of Man