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Traces of the Hand: Master Drawings from the Collection of Frederick and Lucy S. Herman


Drawings are most frequently associated with the preparation of finished works of art in media like painting and sculpture. Drawings have an extensive variety of uses, however, and even with regard to their preparatory functions, they vary widely in purpose. The figure studies by Leighton and Ward typify the use of drawing to develop the poses of figures in compositions whose broad outlines have already been defined. Such studies are often drawn from live models. The Young Man with a Distaff is a full compositional study, clearly intended for transferring the design to another surface since it has been pricked for this purpose, though no final image is known. Maratti’s highly finished red chalk drawing also appears to be a fully completed compositional study, but since it reverses the actual altarpiece, it is in all likelihood a study for an engraved reproduction of Maratti’s painting. Holbein’s St. Kunigunde may also be a compositional study but is more likely a copy made by Holbein or in his shop to preserve the design for future reference. This drawing’s close resemblance to the work of Holbein himself reflects the role of drawing in the training of young artists, who learned by copying the master’s works as exactly as possible. Cambiaso, in contrast, frequently produced fully worked-up compositions like The Arrest of Christ as a means of exploring a dramatic situation, with no final work in mind. Guardi’s view of Venice is a finished drawing intended for sale to tourists; he even included his address on the reverse for the convenience of future customers. La Fargue made his drawing as a forgery, reproducing a painting by Cornelis Decker and falsely signing the work, apparently creating an appealing rarity during a period of renewed interest in Dutch Golden Age draftsmanship.

Artists, Titles, and Accession Numbers

Anonymous, School of Leiden, Young Man with a Distaff: Young Man from the Rear, Holding a Distaff and Spindle, 2007.15.2 >

Luca Cambiaso, The Arrest of Christ, 2006.11.12 >

Karel la Fargue (forgery after Cornelis Gerritsz. Decker), View of a House on a Canal and Men Unloading a Boat, 2007.15.29 >

Giacomo Guardi, View of the Piazza San Marco (Veduta della Piazza di S. Marco), 2006.11.23 >

Hans Holbein the Younger or His Workshop, Study for St. Kunigunde, 2006.11.28 >

Frederic Leighton, 1st Baron Leighton of Stretton, Figure Study for "And the Sea Gave Up the Dead Which Were in It," 2006.11.34 >

Carlo Maratti, Virgin Surrounded by Angels, 2007.15.56 >

James Ward, Figure Studies for "A Livery Stable," 2006.11.65 >

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