I. Studying the Human Figure

The human figure has always occupied a place of special importance in the mind of artists. During the Renais­sance, when man was placed at the centre of the world by the Humanists, the representation of the human form was a major focus of artistic creation. Artists endeavoured to understand the way the body moved and functioned in order to give the protagonists in their works the most re­alistic and expressive character possible. The artistic treatises and academies which developed in Italy in the sixteenth century promoted the study of the human form from life, in other words, based on the observation of a live model, and this became a central workshop practice. Drawing each figure in isolation was one of the pre­liminary stages in the conception of a painting as much as it was an exercise for training the eye and the hand. Pentimenti, the doubling of lines, reworking and varia­tions to all or part of a body, juxtaposed on the same sup­port or repeated from one sheet to the other, were all signs of the draughtsman’s struggle to perfect the anatomy and to experiment with the expressive qualities of an attitude or a movement.

Schizzo (i): dicono i Pittori quei leggerissimi tocchi di penna o matita, con i quali accennano i lor concetti senza dar perfezzione alle parti; il che dicono schizzare

Sketch (es): the name given by painters to the very light strokes of a pen or pencil by means of which they express their ideas, without perfecting the details; they call this sketching

Studio (i): termine de’ Pittori, e Scultori, col quale denominano tutti i disegni o modelli, cavati dal naturale, co’ quali si preparano a far le loro opere; poichè mediante questi, che essi chiamano studi, vengono a determinare, e perfezionare l’Idea di quella cosa, che vogliono, o con pennello, o con scarpello, rappresentare in pittura o scultura

Study (ies): term used by painters and sculptors to describe the draw­ings or models taken from nature, with which they pre­pare to create their works; by means of what they name studies they are able to define and improve on the Idea of what they wish to represent, with paint brush or chisel, in painting or sculpture

Filippo Baldinucci, Vocabolario Toscano dell’Arte del Disegno, Florence, 1681