Drawn to Paint

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Adam Elsheimer

Il Contento
1607
Elsheimer's detailed drawing is not a 'first idea' but a fully developed design know as 'compositional drawing'. The artist was trying to work out the best way to arrange numerous figures into the foreground of a very small scene. Elsheimer almost always made his paintings on copper, which unlike canvas or panel (wood), could not easily be enlarged if the scene became crowded. This is almost exactly the same size as the finished painting. He must have wanted to experiment with his design on the same scale as the intended painting to ensure that his final composition was a success. Too few of Elsheimer's preparatory drawings survive for us to know if this was his standard practice, which makes this rare drawing all the more valuable.
  • Credits David Laing Bequest to the Royal Scottish Academy on loan 1966
  • Medium Pen and brown ink and grey wash over black chalk on two sheets of paper joined in the centre
  • Size 28.80 x 37.40 cm

Did you know?

This is the oldest preparatory drawing for which we also have the painting in the collection of the National Gallery of Scotland.