Filippino Lippi, A Nude Man, a silverpoint drawing

Florence, Italy, AD 1480s

A fine study from life of a muscular human body in movement

This sketch is in silverpoint, heightened with white on mauve-grey, prepared paper. Filippino Lippi (about 1457-1504) has used this traditional technique in a dramatic and novel way to depict a figure in violent motion.

The man lurches forward in a dramatic pose, with a ribbon or piece of rope in his left hand and his right arm raised. It is clear that Filippino Lippi changed his mind as he drew: he started with the right side of the man's back somewhat lower and then broadened the shoulders. The right arm and left hand are loosely sketched as he concentrated on the torso and lower body. The strokes of the silverpoint stylus are varied, the broad zigzags on the calf of the right leg compare with the parallel lines of the upper thigh. White heightening and tonal shadows suggest the effect of light falling on the muscles, in the final stages of this study. In contrast, the rapid, freer and longer strokes of the stylus form the hair and compliment the subject's expressive face.

The study of the heroic male nude was the focus of much artistic interest in late fifteenth-century Florence. Drawings such as this permitted Renaissance artists to understand how the human body worked, which led to a greater naturalism and fluency in their paintings.

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More information

Bibliography

A.E. Popham and P. Pouncey, Italian drawings in the Depa-5 (London, The British Museum Press, 1950)

J. Rowlands, Master drawings and watercolou (London, The British Museum Press, 1984)

G. Goldner and C. Bambach, The drawings of Filippino Lipp (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1997)

Dimensions

Height: 237.000 mm
Width: 177.000 mm (upper corners cut)

Museum number

PD 1860-6-16-64

PDO6652

Location

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