Thursday, June 29, 2017

Old Master Drawings on Blue Paper

Leonardo da Vinci
Study of woman's head
ca. 1485-90
drawing on blue paper
Royal Collection, Windsor

Paper tinted blue (by papermakers, during manufacture) was a moderately fashionable commodity in Renaissance Europe, in demand for writing, drawing, and even letterpress printing. This blue-paper fashion expanded and peaked during the 18th century. Samples chosen here are fairly well-preserved, though less vivid than they once were. Many such papers have faded to gray or to some indeterminate pale shade.

Giovanni Angelo Canini
Study for fallen Angel
drawing on blue paper
Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf

Albrecht Dürer
Study of feet
drawing on blue paper
Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam

Agostino Carracci
Kneeling figure
ca. 1582-85
drawing on blue paper
Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Annibale Carracci
Study for St Andrew
before 1605
drawing on blue paper
Royal Collection, Windsor


Like the sunburst up the white breast of a black-footed penguin
amid infinite quantities of gin
Henry perceived his subject.
It came nearer, like a guilty bystander,
stood close, leaving no room to ponder,
Mickey Mouse & The Tiger on the table.

Leaving the ends aft open, touch the means,
whereby we ripen. Touch by all means the means
whereby we come to life,
enduring the manner for the matter, ay
I sing quickly, offered Henry, I
sing more quickly.

I sing with infinite slowness finite pain
I have reached into the corner of my brain
to have it out.
I sat by fires when I was young, & now
I'm not I sit by fires again, although
I do it more slowly.

from The Dream Songs by John Berryman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1969)

Giorgio Vasari
drawing on blue paper
Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin

Giacinto Calandrucci
Study for figure of Aurora
drawing on blue paper
Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf

Hendrik Goltzius
The Albani Faun
(ancient statue, restored)

Teylers Museum, Haarlem

Study for Ignudo
ca. 1607-1610
drawing on blue paper
Royal Collection, Windsor

Luca Giordano
Young man pulling a rope
ca. 1700
drawing on blue paper
Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum

Jean Restout the Younger
Seated Faun
ca. 1753-59
drawing on blue paper
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Wouda Piera
drawing on blue paper
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Pompeo Batoni
drawing on blue paper
Philadelphia Museum of Art 

Giovanni Antonio Grecolini
before 1725
drawing on blue paper
Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf