The BP Special Exhibition

Italian Renaissance Drawings
Fra Angelico to Leonardo

22 April – 25 July 2010

Exhibition closed

Supported by BP

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Drawn from the two foremost collections in the field, this major exhibition features 100 exquisite drawings by Italian Renaissance artists including Raphael, Leonardo, Michelangelo and Verrocchio.

The Times
Time Out

A unique collaboration between the Uffizi in Florence and the British Museum, the display charts the increasing importance of drawing during this period, featuring works by Leonardo da Vinci, Fra Angelico, Jacopo and Gentile Bellini, Botticelli, Carpaccio, Filippo Lippi, Mantegna, Michelangelo, Verrocchio and Titian.

In 15th-century Italy there was a fundamental shift in style and artistic thinking in the use of preparatory drawings. What began as a means of preserving artistic ideas became the ideal way to perfect more naturalistic forms and perspective – a new approach by painters, sculptors and architects.

Infrared and other technology used in conservation research provide fresh insights into how drawing allowed painters to experiment and explore with a freedom not always reflected in their finished works. Examples in the exhibition show the trend towards depiction of movement and expression of emotion, often inspired by classical antiquity.

This exhibition is a unique opportunity to discover the evolution of drawing which laid the foundations of the High Renaissance style of Michelangelo and Raphael.

Highlights from the exhibition

  • Anonymous Lombard (Workshop of Giovannino de'Grassi), Two studies of a cheetah (detail), 1410. Watercolour and bodycolour on vellum, 16.4 x 12.3 cm (whole drawing). British Museum 1887,0502.117

  • Sandro Botticelli, Allegory of Abundance or Autumn (detail), c. 1480–5. Black and red chalk, pen and brown ink, brown wash, heightened with white, on paper with an irregular orange-red ground consisting mainly of red lead, 31.7 x 25.2 cm (whole drawing). British Museum 1895,0915.447

  • Andrea del Verrocchio, Head of a woman (detail), c. 1475. Charcoal (some oiled ?), heightened with white, pen and brown ink on her left eye, 32.4 x 27.3 cm (whole drawing). British Museum 1895,0915.785

  • Leonardo da Vinci, Landscape (detail), 1473. Pen and two shades of brown ink, 19.4 x 28.5 cm (whole drawing). Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi, Florence

  • Leonardo da Vinci, Head of a warrior (detail), c. 1475–80. Metalpoint on a cream preparation, 28.7 x 21.1 cm (whole drawing). British Museum 1895,0915.474

  • Leonardo da Vinci, Military machines and a study for a spearhead (detail), c. 1485–8. Pen and brown ink over stylus, 17.3 x 24.6 cm (whole drawing). British Museum 1860,0616.99

  • Raffaellino del Garbo, The Risen Christ (detail), c. 1495–97. Silverpoint heightened with lead white over stylus indications on grey preparation, 37.8 x 25.5 cm (whole drawing). British Museum Pp,1.32

  • Vittore Carpaccio, The Vision of St Augustine (detail), c. 1501–8. Pen and brown ink, brown-grey wash over leadpoint and the architectural setting with a stylus, 27.8 X 42.6 cm (whole drawing). British Museum 1934,1208.1

  • Michelangelo, A youth beckoning (detail), c. 1504. Pen and two shades of brown ink; black chalk (leg study), 37.4 x 22.8 cm (whole drawing). British Museum 1887,0502.117

  • Raphael, Cartoon for St George, c. 1504–5. Pen and ink, over black chalk, the outlines of the figures pricked for transfer, 26.5 x 26.7 cm.
    Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi, Florence


View of the exhibition

Related gallery


Room 90: Prints and Drawings

Visit the Prints and Drawings gallery, which holds the national collection of Western prints and drawings. See floor plans


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