Museum Home Past Exhibitions Made for Manufacture: Drawings for Sculpture and the Decorative Arts

February 6–May 20, 2007 at the Getty Center

Drawing for a Wall Light / Prieur
Drawing for a Wall Light, attributed to Jean-Louis Prieur, about 1775

This exhibition features designs for three-dimensional objects such as stained glass, metalwork, tapestry, sculpture, architecture, and the decorative arts.

When artists designed such objects, they typically drew their preliminary ideas on paper. Later, they often made more detailed drawings to guide the craftsmen who executed the final work. The designs in this exhibition showcase artists' ingenuity and demonstrate the key role of drawing in the creation of three-dimensional objects.

French Neoclassical artist Jean-Louis Prieur is believed to have made both this drawing for a three-branched wall light and the finished wall lights themselves. The back plate imitates a flaming torch, a motif appropriate to the object's function of holding candles.

Design for a Quatrefoil / after the Master of the Housebook
Design for a Quatrefoil, after the Master of the Housebook, German, about 1475–1490
Recent Acquisition
learn_more See a close-up of the figures in the bottom lobe of the design.

Stained Glass

Several steps and a variety of craftsmen were involved in making stained glass. After an artist drew the overall composition, a glass painter painted the design onto pieces of clear and colored glass.

This design for a stained glass quatrefoil (four-lobed form) portrays scenes of courtly love. The drawing was probably made by someone in the workshop of the Master of the Housebook, an artist who introduced secular imagery to stained glass. It likely served as a model for a glass painter.

Portrait of a Man / Hans Schwarz
Portrait of a Man, Hans Schwarz, about 1518

Jewelry and Metalwork

Portrait medals developed as an independent art form in the Renaissance. From 1518 to 1520, Hans Schwarz made more than a hundred preparatory drawings for portrait medals, including this one of Anton Rem, a wealthy citizen of Augsburg, Germany. Schwarz had a gift for capturing a sitter's unique physical characteristics in a simple profile bust.

Using this drawing as a guide, Schwarz carved a model in wood. The wood model was then pressed into a clay mold into which molten metal was poured.

Johan IV van Nassau and His Wife / van Orley
Johan IV van Nassau and His Wife, Maria van Loon-Heinsberg, Bernaert van Orley, 1528–1530
learn_more See a close-up of Maria on her horse.


This drawing is one of seven designs for a set of tapestries, now lost, depicting the genealogy of the house of Orange-Nassau, a branch of the Dutch royal family.

The color and detail of this drawing indicate that the artist, painter and tapestry designer Bernaert van Orley, submitted it for the patron's approval. Van Orley probably also executed the cartoon, a full-scale drawing used to transfer a design to a larger format, to guide the tapestry weavers in the Dermoyen workshop in Brussels.

Study for a Statue of Queen Isabella / de Mena y Medrano
Study for a Statue of Queen Isabella, Pedro de Mena y Medrano, 1675

Sculpture and Architecture

Queen Isabella of Spain kneels before an altar in this study for a wood sculpture that still stands in the main chapel of the cathedral in Granada, Spain. The lower right and bottom right edges are marked for scale in varas, an old Spanish unit of measure equal to 33 inches.

Before the sculpture was executed, it had to be approved by the artist's patrons. Signatures confirming church officials' satisfaction with the design are on the back of the sheet (see detail).

Design for a Ewer with Eagles and Putti / della Bella
Design for a Ewer with Eagles and Putti, Stefano della Bella, 1629
learn_more See a close-up of the twined glass tubes and putti.

Table Ornament

Elaborate glass table ornaments were common at the Medici court in Florence. This drawing's complexity, however, suggests that a cup constructed to its fantastic design never graced the tabletop at a Medici feast. Instead, it is a striking example of artistic ingenuity.

The artist's inscription at the bottom explains the function of the glass: white wine should be poured into one tube and red wine into the other, so that the red wine fills the eagles and snakes, and the white wine fills the rest. Delicate blue wash evokes the presence of liquid inside a transparent shell.

This exhibition is located at the Getty Center, Museum, East Pavilion.