The Courtauld Prints and Drawings Room Presents…
SHOWCASE WEEK : Scaled Up
The week of the 15 – 19 June is an exciting time for the Prints and Drawings Room. For one week only the staff have selected five of our most striking works on paper for public viewing, focusing on preparatory drawings used by artists to increase the scale of their works, from the sixteenth to the twentieth century.
Between 1.30pm and 5pm our doors are open without an appointment with each work selected for one day only. Our friendly staff are eager to introduce their chosen works to the public and will be on hand to discuss them and answer questions.
Our Prints and Drawings Study Room Assistants introduce their selection…
Monday 15 June, Rosamund Garrett on Tommaso di Andrea Vincidor’s Head of a Warrior, 1520-35, bodycolour and black chalk, The Courtauld Gallery, D.1975.WF.4775
The bold outlines, simple colour washes and evidence of wear from the loom identifies this profile of a Roman soldier as a rare fragment of a tapestry cartoon. A pupil of Raphael, Vincidor travelled to Flanders at the behest of Pope Leo X in order to prepare cartoons for tapestries to be woven in Brussels.
Drafting full-scale cartoons from initial smaller designs required the artist to be adept at enlargement without distortion, with a thorough understanding of how graphic qualities translate into woven form.
Tuesday 16 June, Tatiana Bissolati on Claude Lorrain’s Arrival of Aeneas at Pallanteum, 1675, graphite, pen and brown ink and bodycolour, The Courtauld Gallery, D.1978.PG.215
This drawing is one of the many Claude Lorrain produced for his painting of The Arrival of Aeneas at Pallanteum. It depicts an episode from Virgil’s Aeneid recounting the meeting of Aeneas with Pallas, son of King Evander at Pallanteum, the future site of Rome.
Combining the use of pen and brush in applying ink, the work has a distinct painterly quality, typical of Claude’s drawings. The graphite lines, probably drawn in the very end, show that the sheet played a role in the design process when the artist reflected on the scale and proportion of the image.
Wednesday 17 June, Bryony Bartlett-Rawlings on James Thornhill’s Decoration of the Dome of St Paul’s, 1715-21, Graphite, pen, ink and watercolour, The Courtauld Gallery, D.1952.RW.2228
The decoration of St Paul’s was the most important ecclesiastical commission from Sir James Thornhill, the main English exponent of Baroque decorative painting. This is an early design for the project, which explores the possibilities of ornamenting a section of the dome with illusionistic architecture.
The broad applications of wash and the low viewpoint allow the artist to envision how this decorative scheme would appear in the final large scale work, to be seen from below, from a distance of over sixty metres.
Thursday 18 June, Rachel Sloan on Pierre Auguste Renoir’s Designs for the decoration of a panel, 1895, black chalk, The Courtauld Gallery, D.1978.PG.244
The figures in classical drapery on this sheet, delineated with rapid strokes of black chalk, represent initial ideas for a set of painted wall panels inspired by Sophocles’s tragedy Oedipus Rex, commissioned by Renoir’s patron Paul Gallimard. Initially trained in the decorative arts, Renoir maintained a keen interest in painted decoration throughout his career.
These studies give insight into how he addressed the challenges of translating a design drawing into a different medium, format and scale, including finding dynamic yet balanced poses that would sit gracefully within the tall, narrow panels.
Friday 19 June, Alexander Noelle on Frank Auerbach’s Study for Oxford Street Building Site, 1957-59, Pencil and red pastel , The Courtauld Gallery, D.2010.XX.2
Auerbach recorded in a sketchbook scenes from the construction sites on Oxford Street in London in the decades following the devastation of World War II. Both the recto and verso of this sheet are covered in notations that describe the colours and details he observed in person.
The numbered red squaring grid was added later in the studio as a compositional tool whilst also easing the process of transfer to a painting surface roughly ten times larger.
We hope to see you there!Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment
In a series of blog posts postgraduate intern Eleanor Magson will share her discoveries as she chooses and researches the next Illuminating Object.
After having spent several weeks researching my Illuminating Objects glass bowl, I got the chance to see it in the flesh again for a bit of a scientific investigation. I felt quite at home visiting a lab and using a microscope, but seeing the Courtauld’s conservation labs, filled with paintings hundreds of years old, was a different experience!
I had come across an article published in 1894 by a mineralogist, Henry Washington, who was a descendent of George Washington. His interest in minerals led him to Murano, in Venice, the centre of the glassmaking industry, as this was where man-made imitations of natural stones were being developed. Washington managed to procure some samples of aventurine, ‘through the kindness of Signor G. Boni of Rome’ – both a prime example and a failed attempt – for his investigations.
Washington says that aventurine was one of the first ever substances of a mineralogical nature (that is, its structure) to be studied under the microscope. So, 121 years after Washington peered down the microscope at a chunk of aventurine, I did the same to the aventurine samples in my bowl.
The following pictures are taken at 120x magnification:
Looking closely, you can just make out individual crystals of copper, which give the aventurine its sparkle. They form triangular and hexagonal crystals, something noted by Washington back in 1894. Unfortunately, Washington was slightly better equipped than the Courtauld in terms of his microscope’s power, and was able to see up to 200x magnification, while 120x was as close as we could get (Such high magnification is unnecessary for the work the Courtauld needs the microscope for, but is rather low for today’s capabilities).
While we were looking at the bowl under the microscope, I noticed a peculiar phenomenon of chalcedony glass. I had read once or twice in my research about a ‘red glow’ that was characteristic of chalcedony glass when a light was shone on it, but it hadn’t been described any further. Where the spotlight used to illuminate the bowl for the microscope was aimed, the glass beneath it shone red! With a bit of rearranging of the light source, we captured these amazing images of the glowing bowl.
Getting a closer view of the bowl under the microscope has really let me see the object in a new light (pun intended!). This little bowl certainly has more to it than first meets the eye, and as I approach the end of the project I am eagerly awaiting its installation in the Courtauld Gallery.
Keep an eye on the Gallery blog to find out more about my Illuminating Objects project.Categories: Displays, Illuminating Objects | Tags: aventurine, bowl, copper, glass, Illuminating Objects, microscope | Leave a comment