Well, after 4 years of occasional rumination, my eternally unsolvable mystery of people drawing frames around Old Master drawings has been flipped on its head. And now I wonder how any drawing could have survived the centuries undoodled.
Reader/artist/hero Peter Huestis pointed me to this full page from Giorgio Vasari’s Libro de Disegni (Book of Drawings), which is in the National Gallery.
As I mentioned last night, Vasari drew the architectural elements around the Getty’s newly acquired del Sarto when the sketch was part of the Libro. The book contained at least 536 drawings, collected by Vasari either as reference material or a supplement for his biographies of great artists, or as significant examples of art in their own right. Most are mounted on larger sheets and are surrounded by frames and plaques and architectural elements in ink and gouache.
Study for Vasari’s Botticelli, 2017- , 200x146cm, ink and gouache on oil on linen? inkjet on aluminum? I have no idea rn [image: nga.gov]
The NGA’s example is one of a very few intact pages: 10 drawings attributed to three artists, some trimmed to shape almost like paper dolls, and collaged into imagined spaces. Vasari places these sketches in the same privileged architectural contexts as paintings. Except the scale is so wild, the drawings become a startlingly contemporary genre of their own. Can you imagine Botticelli painting a 6-by-4 foot mauve head floating above two unmatched, disembodied hands? Hanging over a fireplace or, as he envisioned it here, above a ghostly parade of phantom limbs by Filippino Lippi? You’d have to print it [Or I would, anyway. Could you imagine making these marks at that scale?] Has no one created these installations before?
[Practical but somehow disheartening update: The existence of a Vasari X Botticelli colabo bib on Zazzle makes me think, the whole sheet’s just going to end up as a 3×2.5m vinyl photomural.]
Giorgio Vasari with drawings by Filippino Lippi, Botticelli, and Raffaellino del Garbo, Page from “Libro de’ Disegni” (1480-1504, mounted after 1524) [nga, thanks peter]
Libro de’ Disegni [fr.wikipedia.org]
Previously, related: A proposal for a Prina-style series of monochrome Dürer frame drawings (2013)
A proposal to re-create at scale the six or so historical installation situations of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa (2009)