University of Leicester
2018HICKSIDPhD.pdf (382.84 MB)

Drawings for and after Sculpture in Sixteenth-Century Italy

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posted on 2018-06-21, 09:19 authored by Ian Hicks
This thesis examines sixteenth-century Italian drawings that either record or prepare sculpture. It rejects the popular notion that sculptors’ drawings are stylistically distinct from those of painters and argues that graphic style cannot be used to predict the profession of an unidentified draughtsman. This erroneous notion oversimplifies both the range of techniques and divergent graphic personalities of individual sculptor-draughtsmen. Though other commentators have rejected this idea, none has fully studied the received assumptions that motivate it or analyzed the extant evidence that disproves it. This thesis examines the critical literature that tends to group sculptor-draughtsmen together and which imposes upon scanty visual evidence a narrative in which a tradition of sculptural drawing style extends from the fifteenth into the sixteenth century. Many scholars have argued that drawing styles are derived from sculptural techniques, typically basing their arguments on the examples of Michelangelo and Bandinelli. These conclusions are often generalized to include other sixteenth-century sculptors. Though these commentators sometimes disagree as to which techniques are analogous to carving, they share the common problem of reducing the varied graphic output of sculptor-draughtsmen. The drawing styles of sculptors are not, in fact, derived from sculptural processes and are better explained by graphic influences and the functions of their drawings, which frequently transcend professional distinctions. To show this, drawings by artists working in different media are here studied. Drawings after ancient sculpture are analyzed in order to compare their artistic functions with the preparatory drawings for sculpture by sculptors, but also by painters and architects. In these cases, common artistic interests and drawing styles undermine the idea that drawings can be distinguished by the artist’s principal profession. Finally, this thesis studies the drawn oeuvres of Niccolò Tribolo, Fra Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli and Raffaello da Montelupo, offering new insights into their extant graphic corpora and the reasons for which they made drawings.



Ekserdjian, David; Frangenberg, Thomas

Date of award


Author affiliation

Department of History of Art and Film

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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