NGV National Gallery of Victoria

Drawing in the 16th century

Giorgio Vasari
Italian 1511–1574
Saint Luke painting the Virgin (San Luca che dipinge la Vergine) 1568–72
pen and brown ink and brown wash on black chalk grid on beige paper
26.4 x 21.4 cm
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid
Fernández Durán Bequest, 1931 (D01563)
Drawing assumed an increasingly vital role in artistic practice at this time. Artist and chronicler of the lives of Renaissance artists, Giorgio Vasari articulated the importance of disegno. To him, good drawing was not only a necessary skill for an artist but also an essential creative act. Vasari believed this absolutely and his drawing Saint Luke painting the Virgin 1568–72 shows an artist starting to paint a canvas upon which the composition is already sketched. Florentine artists in particular often prepared numerous studies of the same element of a composition in their pursuit of perfection.