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This morning I attended the press view of the British Museum‘s new exhibition Fra Angelico to Leonardo: Italian Renaissance drawings.
The exhibition features 100 drawings from the period 1400 to 1510, including 10 by Leonardo da Vinci. Other artists on display include Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Michelangelo and Carpaccio.
Fra Angelico to Leonardo aims to show the importance and beauty of drawing during the 15th century. The drawings were often used as studies for larger works – in fact, many of the sketches on display were never intended to be shown outside of the artists’ studios.
It was a period when paper was becoming more available, allowing more artists to draw. You can even touch some of the types of paper used by the artists – perhaps the only time I’ve seen a sign saying “Please touch” in a museum. These drawings paved the way for the High Renaissance which came later in Rome.
Fra Angelico to Leonardo is the first ever show of the British Museum’s large collection of Italian Renaissance drawings. In addition, 50 drawings have been borrowed from the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, which houses the world’s greatest collection of Italian Renaissance drawings. To return the favour, the British Museum will loan 50 of its drawings to the Uffizi when the show transfers to Florence in January 2011.
This morning the exhibition’s curator, Hugo Chapman, said the inspiration for the show came from a room of drawings in the British Museum’s Michelangelo exhibition, which he curated in 2006.
There’s a lot to look at in each drawing and it takes a while to view the intricate sketches on display, but Fra Angelico to Leonardo is certainly a must-see for fans of Italian Renaissance art.
Italian Renaissance Drawings at the British Museum opens on 22 April, until 25 July 2010. Book tickets here