Museum Home Past Exhibitions Made for Manufacture

March 31–July 5, 2009 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, small-scale metalwork, sculpture, architecture, tableware, tapestry, 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.

The Circumcision / Beham
The Circumcision, Hans Sebald Beham, about 1522

Stained Glass

Several steps 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.

Artist Hans Sebald Beham depicted more than 20 separate scenes from the lives of Mary and Christ in circular drawings for stained-glass roundels. In this highly finished drawing depicting the circumcision of the Christ child, he used colored wash to carefully model his figures.

Beham gave this design to a craftsman in the workshop of Veit Hirschvogel the elder (German, 1461–1525). This glass painter made eight different color notations in red chalk, including r for rot (red) in the priest's robe and w for weiss (white) in the dish in the immediate foreground. Similarly, the glass painter used red chalk to trace the contour lines, such as those in the arched window, that indicate placement for the lead framework.

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

Small-Scale 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.

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.


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

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.

This exhibition is a variation of a show that was presented at the Getty Center in 2007.