The Art of Italian Renaissance Drawing - Dürer’s Italian Contemporaries
During the Renaissance, painting and sculpture emancipated themselves from their position as simple craft and began to be understood as art. Due to a “higher social ranking”, painting and sculpture were subsequently perceived to be the embodiment of cultural values. In the framework of newly developing intellectual trends, a certain role in this process was also played by Neo-Platonism, a movement whose main credo was idea – or, Divine idea in the Christian sense. An artist began to be perceived, among other things, as the receiver and mediator of the idea, i.e. the flash of inspiration from God, which he would then capture in his work. Due to its immediacy, drawing proved to be the most appropriate medium for recording the fleeting characters of such flashes, and so drawing regained its value. Although, in the mid-16th century, these ideas were formulated in numerous scholarly treatises, the development of the art of drawing had begun long before (undoubtedly supported by the spreading paper production). The role of drawing being a practical workshop aid continued, but drawing reached a new dimension and, for example, the same swift sketches, which once served only as preparatory material for further work, were revalued as being art work in the full sense of the word.
Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) sojourned to Renaissance Italy twice – in the 1490s and between 1505 and 1507. His drawings rank among the best achievements within the circle of European Renaissance artists – clearly the atmosphere, with its positive inclination to drawing, must have appealed to him. In turn, Dürer himself influenced Italian artists who found new stimuli in his work, especially through prints.
Several exhibited drawings from the Collection of Prints and Drawings of the National Gallery in Prague and the Regional Museum in Teplice represent at least a petty fragment of this artistic discipline to which Dürer introduced himself. Other artists (possibly Marcantonio Raimondi) might have been become familiar with it in person while others (like, for example, the anonymous artist from Lombardy) obviously drew from Dürer’s work.