Love Leonardo, revel in Rembrandt, marvel at Hans Holbein the Younger and see more of the finest Old Master European Portrait Drawings from the Renaissance to the Baroque at this, the first exhibition of its kind held by the National Portrait Gallery, London.
Entitled The Encounter; drawings from Leonardo to Rembrandt, each drawing expresses an intimate encounter, a fleeting bond between artist and sitter, some posed, some spontaneous, some from street life, capturing character, personality, fashions and foibles, young and old, in exquisite detail.
Vitality in the faces of Hans Holbein the Younger’s sitters is astonishing, nearly five hundred years later. The muscularity of Leonardo da Vinci’s Study of a Male Nude is awesome. Hidden treasures, rarely seen in public for conservation reasons, include important loans from The Royal Collection.
The European Renaissance spanned the 14th-17th centuries, a cultural bridge between the Middle Ages and the Modern World flowing into the flamboyant Baroque era of the 17th-18th centuries. A fascinating display (with film) shows the types of drawing tools and media used by Renaissance artists such as metal point, coloured chalks and inks and their careful preparation of paper surfaces, ready for drawing. Artists were moving away from using old medieval pattern books for source material, to study figures and faces from life, a new dynamic in art.
The great and the humble, male and female, shoemaker, children, all appear in these remarkable drawings. Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, NPG, says:
While the sitters’ identities are often unknown, their encounters with the artist are preserved in drawings that vividly demonstrate the creative moment that lies at the heart of many of the greatest portraits. Some of the drawings were perhaps never intended to leave the artist’s studio, but are arguably amongst the most engaging and powerful impressions of personal likeness in the history of art.”
Need to Know: THE ENCOUNTER: DRAWINGS from LEONARDO to REMBRANDT, July 13 – October 22 2017 at National Portrait Gallery, London, www.npg.org.uk/encounter #TheEncounter. To accompany this exhibition, a beautifully illustrated exhibition book by curators Dr Tarnya Cooper and Dr Charlotte Bolland from NPG Shops and On-Line, Softback, £24.95.