Pocket guide to Roman Emperors, £6.99
Height: 248.000 mm
Width: 337.000 mm (max)
On loan to
Antonio Pisanello, Three Men Standing, a drawing
Italy, around AD 1440s
Illustrating fifteenth-century courtly dress
An inscription on the drawing, probably contemporary and perhaps by the artist himself, records the drawing as being by PISANUS. The artist, Pisanello (about 1395-1455) (meaning 'little Pisan') derives his name from his father's birthplace, Pisa in Tuscany. He spent most of his career in the princely courts of Italy where he painted portraits and frescoes of the rulers and courtiers and, most importantly, designed and made medals for the various rulers.
The drawing is made in pen and ink with a grey wash over a black chalk sketch, on parchment. Parchment is fine sheep or goat skin, more expensive than paper, but an appropriate medium for drawings because it can survive handling better than paper. Vellum's hard-wearing nature made it ideal for study, or model books of designs kept in the studio, and for elaborately finished studies such as this, which may have been made as gifts.
These three men are shown standing, dressed in elaborate courtly costumes, like three male models in a fashion show. The figure at the left wears a long thin hat, his robes are trimmed with fur. In the centre, wearing an elaborate and large cloth turban, an older man wears fur-trimmed robes though of a different design. To the right, another young man is seen in profile, a wreath of flowers in his hair, wearing a robe with billowing sleeves with patterns like feathers.
A.E. Popham and P. Pouncey, Italian drawings in the Depa-5 (London, The British Museum Press, 1950)
F. Ames-Lewis, Drawing in early Renaissance I (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1981)