Exhibition of Newly Acquired Drawings Illustrating an Artist's Life in Renaissance Rome to Open June 15 at the J. Paul Getty Museum
Exhibition dates: June 15-August 29, 1999
PRESS PREVIEW: June 15, 9am-11am
On view will be a series of 20 drawings by Federico Zuccaro (1541-1609) chronicling the artistic coming of age of his older brother, Taddeo, from his early apprenticeship to his first major commission at the age of 18. The drawings were acquired by the Getty earlier this year and will be shown here for the first time. In addition, the Museum will be displaying drawings from its collection by both Taddeo and Federico and a rare 1568 edition of Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Artists, from the Getty Research Institute’s special collections. In it, Vasari established the importance of drawing to the artistic process and provided the most valuable source of information on Taddeo’s career, describing most of the scenes in the exhibition.
Taddeo Zuccaro (1529-1566) was among the most famous Italian artists of his time and was a virtually unrivaled draftsman. He was also the teacher of his younger brother, Federico, who became one of the major painters and art theorists of his generation. Both were proponents of Mannerism, which formed a bridge between the Renaissance and Baroque periods.
The Getty series of drawings by Federico of his brother represent a moving tribute beginning with a tender image of Taddeo leaving home as a young boy of 14. The drawings present a vivid record of how Renaissance artists trained and worked, depicting artists painting in the studio, grinding pigments, working on scaffolding, and constantly exercising the skill of drawing. Federico emphasizes Taddeo’s passion for drawing, showing him in various spots in Rome, sketching its renowned artistic monuments. In one scene, Taddeo draws the famous ancient Roman statue of the Laocoön, in the Belvedere Court of the Vatican, while in another Taddeo copies Michelangelo’s newly completed Last Judgement fresco in the Sistine Chapel. The series culminates in a scene showing Taddeo working on his first major commission to paint frescoes adorning the façade of the Palazzo Mattei with Michelangelo and Vasari looking on and marveling at the young master’s genius.
Lee Hendrix, recently appointed curator of drawings, comments, "This affecting series is one of the collection’s key means of highlighting the practice, history, and import of the art of drawing. With its vivid scenes showing the early career of Taddeo Zuccaro, it is one of our most powerful tools for showing visitors how draftsmen of the past worked and what inspired them to draw."
On August 3, 1999, the Museum will open Recent Additions to the Drawings Collection, which features works that have entered the collection since 1996. Highlights include works by Pieter Coecke van Aelst, Peter Paul Rubens, Pierre Bonnard, and Aubrey Beardsley.
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