CAT. 65

William Blake

British, 1757 – 1827

Saint Paul Preaching at Athens

Pen and ink, watercolor, black chalk with wet brush, and scraping on wove paper
45.7 x 31.1 cm (18 x 12 1/4 inches)
Gift of the Estate of Mrs. Gustav Radeke 31.280


Blake’s Saint Paul stands like a giant before the people of Athens in this radiant watercolor, his arms raised in acclamation as he reveals the nature of the Christian god and his relationship to humanity, as relayed in the Book of Acts. This was a pose that the artist clearly liked, having used it many years earlier at the beginning of his career in a wash drawing of Moses Receiving the Law (Fig. 1). As in that drawing, the divine agency behind the event depicted is indicated by the bright light that illuminates the human figure at the center of the composition. Here, however, that light is shared with a cast of men, women, and children sitting huddled at the foot of the tiered platform upon which Paul stands as they ponder his message. This platform is probably the Areopagus, the rocky outcrop from which the saint delivered his most important speech at Athens (Acts 17: 22–34). The composition is similar to a tapestry design by Raphael, which Blake would have known well through the cartoons in the British royal collection (Fig. 2).


A tonal black and white drawing of a light-skinned Moses with a flowing white beart and dressed in long robes with his arms raised holding two stone tablets.

Fig. 1
William Blake, Moses Receiving the Law, ca. 1780. Pen and black ink with gray wash, black wash, and graphite on moderately thick, moderately textured, cream laid paper; 66 x 13.1 cm (26 x 12 1/4 inches). Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection B1975.4.1883. Yale Center for British Art


A muted color painting of Saint Paul preaching on a set of steps before a group of light-skinned men dressed in classical drapery, in various poses of attention and debate.

Fig. 2
Raphael and studio, Saint Paul Preaching at Athens, ca. 1515–1516. Gouache on paper mounted onto canvas: 320 x 390 cm (126 x 153 1/2 inches). Victoria and Albert Museum, Lent by Her Majesty The Queen, ROYAL LOANS.7. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Saint Paul Preaching at Athens was one of a series of watercolors of Biblical subjects that Blake made between 1799 and 1803 for the affluent civil servant Thomas Butts.1 Butts lived in London, but the drawings were largely executed in the coastal village of Felpham in Sussex, where Blake temporarily relocated in 1800 to work under the patronage of the poet William Hayley.2 Blake also worked on a number of commissions for Hayley, including illustrations to his ballads and decorative panels for his library.3 While these projects provided Blake with a welcome measure of financial independence at a time of economic hardship, the artist soon became frustrated with his employer, whom he felt thwarted his creativity. In contrast, Blake was given much more artistic freedom over the watercolors for Butts, which enabled him to produce deeply personal expressions of his religious views.4 They also allowed him to experiment as an ambitious artist working on the borderline between drawing and painting.

There are several ways in which Blake has experimented with painterly effects in this drawing. Most striking, perhaps, is his use of local color. This includes the warm ochres and cool blues that give substance to the garments of his figures. These colors have been applied in both light washes and heavier, opaque ones, notably on the far right, where a man wrapped in a dark cloak sits brooding. This is very different from the stippling technique of massing dots of color, which Blake used to render the rays of light emanating from Saint Paul, as well as his facial complexion. In the early nineteenth century, stippling was most commonly used in the context of miniature painting, and it is probably not a coincidence that Blake’s first forays into this area coincided exactly with his work on the biblical watercolors for Butts.5 These included two portraits of the poet William Cowper, which Blake painted for Hayley during his time at Felpham.6 | DB


  1. Naomi Billingsley, “‘On the Stocks’: Biblical Watercolours from the Felpham Period,” in William Blake in Sussex: Visions of Albion, ed. Andrew Loukes (London: Paul Holberton for National Trust, 2018), 33–45.
  2. Billingsley, “‘On the Stocks,’” 33.
  3. For these projects, see Mark Crosby, “‘Three Years Herculean Labours at Felpham’: Blake’s Sussex Experience,” in William Blake in Sussex, ed. Andrew Loukes, 21–31.
  4. Billingsley, “‘On the Stocks,’” 35.
  5. Mark Crosby, “William Blake’s Miniature Portraits of the Butts Family,” in Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly 42, no. 4 (2009): 147–52.
  6. Crosby, “William Blake’s Miniature Portraits,” 147.

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Drawing Closer

Drawing Closer

Four Hundred Years of Drawing from the RISD Museum

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Drawing(s) at RISD: Foundations and Beyond

“In the beginning there was drawing.” Though tongue-in-cheek, this biblical riff encapsulates a core concept in the history and theory of western European art—one that continues to inform artistic pedagogy and academic training to this day. In the first century CE, the Roman author Pliny the Elder claimed that while the origins of painting were uncertain, “all agree that it began with tracing an outline around a person’s shadow,” thus describing line-drawing as the foundational pictorial act.1 Many centuries later, the Florentine painter Cennino Cennini compiled his Libro dell’arte (Treatise on Art) around 1400, a time when drawing on paper was becoming widespread. He stated that “the foundation of art, and the starting point of all these works of the hand, is drawing and coloring.” 2 Still later, in the 1560s, the painter and biographer Giorgio Vasari (1511–1574)—who inspired the founding of the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno (Academy of the Arts of Drawing), an ancestor of modern art schools—reiterated that “drawing [is] the father of our three arts: architecture, sculpture, and painting.” 3 In his understanding, the meaning of the Italian word disegno encompassed both the manual act of drafting and the intellectual activities of conception and design.

Western European art theory was grounded in the assumptions that drawing came first chronologically and was also the first conceptual step in most artistic creations. The correlative belief was that drawing should be the gateway to artistic training in any medium. This pedagogical conviction, embedded in the curricula of art schools for centuries, began to be questioned only in the latter part of the twentieth century. At RISD, drawing is still upheld as an artistic foundation: drawing is a focus of first-year studio classes, and students in any area can elect to pursue a drawing concentration beyond their freshman year. While the foundational view of drawing generally holds true in Western art—particularly in the traditional models of workshop practice and academic training—drawings have always served a broad range of purposes with varying degrees of connection to other media. Drawing is a tool for learning and planning, but also close-looking, visual thinking, communicating, entertaining, and simply provoking intellectual and aesthetic pleasure. The first four hundred years of drawing on paper also witnessed the growth of the medium into an independent artistic activity. Drawing has always been more than a prelude.

Drawing Closer, the exhibition and this accompanying digital catalog, is an invitation to look at drawings from multiple perspectives with a focus on what drawings were made of, why they were made, and what they look like. Seven interwoven sections highlight the most common drawing materials and techniques employed by artists during the early modern period (roughly between 1400 and 1800) and some of the purposes drawings served in both the artist’s studio and the world outside it. The four sections on pen and ink, brush and wash, chalk, and color explore the distinctive characteristics of each medium and the range of effects they produced when handled by different practitioners. Videos by Andrew Raftery further demonstrate the properties and characteristics of these different media and the steps involved in the creation of a drawing—from planning to execution. Sections on observation, process, and humor explore the making or function of particular drawings rather than grouping them by medium. Internal and external links facilitate interactive encounters with the works and information about them.

These drawings are dense, multi-layered creations, and many of them could easily be placed in a different section, changing the viewer’s perspective of the drawing’s significance in that new context. For this reason, both in the exhibition and publication, traditional sorting principles such as chronology or nationality have been eschewed in favor of material, aesthetic, or functional affinities. The seven chapters serve as an introduction to some of the many ways these drawings can be accessed, analyzed, and organized. But the physical installation and digital platform also encourage nonlinear exploration, iterative reinterpretation, and the discovery of resonant associations across categories. Drawing Closer aims to empower viewers to get closer to works that might otherwise feel distant or unfamiliar.

The traditional term “old master drawings,” which broadly refers to European drawings made between the 1400s and the 1800s, reveals long-standing biases that have shaped art instruction, production, and collecting for centuries. RISD’s collection of European drawings reflects nineteenth- and early twentieth-century collecting priorities, skewing towards revered names in the art-historical canon, whose protagonists—in the eyes of historians and collectors of the time—were predominantly formally trained male artists from western Europe. The effects of this limited purview endure to this day in art-historical scholarship and museum collections. As a result of centuries of restrictions placed on women to pursue an education and a career in art, there were undoubtedly many fewer professional female artists in the early modern period—and consequently fewer drawings by these artists on the market. The RISD Museum acquired its first drawing by an early modern woman, Elisabetta Sirani, only in 2018 (see Cat. 13). Though not unusual for American institutions, this statistic may seem particularly surprising for RISD, because the core of its drawings collection was shaped in important ways by women, chiefly Eliza Greene Radeke (née Metcalf), who served as president of the Board of Trustees between 1913 and 1931, and Helen Metcalf Danforth, who succeeded her as president from 1931 to 1965.4

Through the efforts and generosity of collectors Eliza Greene Radeke, Helen Metcalf Danforth, and a third important donor, Ellen Dexter Sharpe, the RISD Museum acquired some of its most cherished works on paper. Their choices and priorities were guided not only by what was available but also by what was generally considered “important,” both as a worthy example for art students to emulate, and as the bedrock of graphic arts holdings that could compare to authoritative institutions. Their ambitious purchases and gifts established a drawings collection of high caliber, but with a specific focus. Among others included in the exhibition, the dramatic black chalk study by Anthony van Dyck (Cat. 35) and the superb red chalk portrait by Edme Bouchardon (Cat. 24) were gifts of Radeke and Danforth respectively. From Ellen Dexter Sharpe, who served on RISD’s board between 1894 and 1900, the museum received an exceptional group of works on paper, including Luca Cambiaso’s Descent from the Cross (Cat. 15).

In addition to this foundational, canonical core, however, RISD’s collection of early works on paper is also rich in drawings by lesser-known or still-unidentified artists that are particularly interesting in terms of process, aesthetic and material qualities, and function. Intriguing examples include Antonio Gionima’s compositional sketch jotted on the back of a letter (Cat. 58) and a painstaking preparatory design for printed fabric (Cat. 57) acquired by the museum in 1936.

All these holdings are central to the mission of a museum founded within the heart of a school of art and design. The collection remains a living, developing resource used to teach and inspire the next generations of artists and makers. In a classroom context, European drawings at the RISD Museum are often closely examined through the lenses of materials and making, always keeping in mind how these two forces come together in creating form and meaning. As a collection, they continue to be a powerful source of instruction, inspiration, and wonder. This publication and the exhibition it accompanies attempt to enable further intimate, observation-driven encounters with these works for students and visitors in our galleries and a broader, worldwide public.JG

Author Abbreviations:

JG: Jamie Gabbarelli
DB: Dominic Bate
EAW: Elizabeth A. Williams
EB: Emily Banas
GEB: Gina Borromeo
JH: Jan Howard
MOB: Maureen C. O'Brien
WYC: Wai Yee Chiong

  1. Pliny, Naturalis historia 35:5, http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.02.0137:book=35:chapter=5.
  2. “El fondamento dell’arte, e di tutti questi lavorii di mano principio, è il disegno e ’l colorire.” Cennino Cennini, Libro dell’arte (ca. 1400), chapt. 4.
  3. “[I]l Disegno, padre delle tre Arti nostre, Architettura, Scultura, e Pittura.” Giorgio Vasari, Le vite de’ più eccellenti pittori, scultori, e architettori, vol. 1 (Florence: Giunti, 1568), 43; https://www.google.com/books/edition/Le_vite_de_piu_eccellenti_pittori_sculto/EYgl-hIAf0sC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=vasari%20vite%201568&pg=PA43&printsec=frontcover&bsq=vasari%20vite%201568.
  4. See Jan Howard, “‘Varied Functions and Pleasures’: Drawings at the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design,” Master Drawings 42, no. 2 (2004): 160–72.


Pen and Ink
The Primacy of Line

Line, a graphic mark interrupting the blank expanse of paper, is one of the basic elements of the visual vocabulary of drawing. Until the nineteenth century, the principal tools of linear drawing in Europe were the reed pen, used since antiquity, and the quill pen, a versatile instrument made from a bird feather. In the early modern period, drawing inks were water-based liquids colored either by suspended pigments (such as carbon particles or wood soot) or by natural chemical properties (such as the tannic acid of oak trees in iron-gall ink or the dried ink sacs of cuttlefish in sepia).

Lines drawn in pen and ink vary in thickness and intensity according to the width of the nib, the pressure applied, and the amount of ink in the quill. Once dry, ink marks are stable, durable, and—unlike marks made in chalk or graphite—cannot be smudged. By the same token, ink is impossible to erase and difficult to correct, making pen and ink perhaps the most technically demanding drawing medium of all.

From the 1400s, when ink drawing on paper became common, there was a progression toward ever more complex uses of the pen. These ranged from simple outlines to hatching (parallel shading) and cross-hatching (crisscrossed shading) to more personal forms of mark making. Akin to handwriting, drawing in pen and ink came to be perceived as inextricably linked with the “hand” and the identity of a singular artist. During the period in which the drawings in this section were made, the display of bravura and individuality using pen and ink increasingly became an end in itself, and the quality of line took on its own aesthetic valence.



The Beauty of Monochrome

To increase both the tonal richness and plasticity of their drawings, early modern artists often brushed on ink diluted in water to create fields of tone in a variety of subtly different shades. While hard to control, the application of liquid washes on paper provided a swifter way of shading than the laborious construction of shadows with parallel lines or cross-hatching.

As artists became more interested in the convincing depiction of three-dimensional volumes, wash also proved to be an effective medium for the continuous modeling of form, with the fluid medium mimicking the appearance of real shadows pooling around curved forms. In more ambitious compositions, skillfully applied wash also enhanced the illusion of a coherent space by suggesting unified lighting. A small number of artists even used wash independently of pen marks to create entire compositions that were striking for their monochromatic painterliness.

As the drawings in this section show, the visual qualities and effects of wash can vary dramatically depending on the color of the inks employed, the degree of dilution, the combination or superimposition of different shades, and whether they were applied with a wet brush or a dry brush. Underlying all of these approaches, however, is their potential to mimic and visualize the ephemeral, seductive interplay of light and form.

Portraits, Academies, Nature Studies

The faithful imitation of nature has not always been an aim for visual artists. In fifteenth-century Europe, however, artists began to prioritize the ability to depict three-dimensional spaces, human and non-human animals, and even light in ways that would cause viewers to suspend disbelief and think of the picture in front of them as an extension of the world they inhabited. With few notable exceptions, the importance of the mimetic Renaissance tradition went virtually unquestioned until the late 1800s, particularly in the context of academic training.

Drawing on paper was a catalyst of this artistic shift, and observation from nature its principal strategy. Drawing and observing are intertwined in complex ways. The greater availability of paper—a light, durable, relatively affordable, and replaceable support compared to its predecessors (parchment or waxed tablets)—enabled artists to both sketch and experiment more and to gain greater facility at transcribing what they saw. Striving toward ever more effective graphic strategies to reproduce the thing seen, artists explored different materials, including ink, chalk, graphite, and watercolor, thereby expanding the visual and aesthetic range of the drawing medium.

The effects of this process went far beyond the purely aesthetic. Accurate depictions of natural specimens and artifacts sparked wonder for nature and human ingenuity while also enabling the visual exchange of knowledge that is at the basis of modern sciences. More faithful portraits fed and buttressed a more individualized sense of identity, which in turn increased the cultural importance of self-fashioning and self-presentation. In different ways, all the drawings in this section are related to observation: they range from academic exercises to documents of precise, intimate moments to painstaking and staggering displays of illusionistic prowess.

Between Line and Tone

Chalk, a term encompassing a variety of colored earths, was one of the most common drawing media in the early modern period. A dry, friable material whose particles are rubbed off by the texture of the paper, chalk was particularly appreciated in the early modern era for its versatility. When sharpened to a point, it could be used for detailed linear drawing; a blunter tip would convey broader, blurrier strokes; and when rubbed with a finger or a stump, it created continuous, modulated areas of tone. These material qualities, which enabled seamless transitions between line and tone, made chalk an ideal material for the exploration and graphic rendition of three-dimensional volumes and the effects of light on complex surfaces such as faces, muscles, or draperies.

Until the late 1700s, the most common hues of chalk, frequently used in combination, were black, red, and white. Black chalk, a natural stone formed of clay and carbon, was used by the Italian painter Cennino Cennini around 1400 and became a more common drawing tool by the late 1400s. Normally used for drawings that demanded strong tonal contrast, it could also be easily erased, which made it a popular choice for delicate preliminary underdrawings.

Red chalk, sometimes called sanguine, is a mixture of clay and hematite (red iron oxide). Known since antiquity, it became a common drawing medium in the 1500s, with Leonardo da Vinci being one of the first artists to use it extensively. As opposed to black chalk, red chalk cannot be erased with ease, and its marks are more prone to smudging and offsetting (a quality that enabled counterproofing)—all factors that make its handling more challenging. When wet with a brush, it could be turned into a bright red wash. Its variety of warm tones and great chromatic strength made it a popular choice for the depiction of human flesh. In the 1700s, it became the favored medium in drawing academies, to the point where all natural sources of the material were exhausted by the end of that century. All modern red chalks are manufactured synthetically.

Usually applied in combination with black and red, white chalk, made primarily of calcium, is distinguished by both its brilliant white tonality and its softness. It was most frequently employed to add white highlights on toned papers or colored drawings.

Humor, Caricature, Society

For professional artists, the act of drawing is often synonymous with exacting practice and serious work, but it can also be a fertile source of diversion and relaxation. This selection of works places the spotlight on drawings that were made for fun: from sketches made for individual pleasure to those meant to elicit laughter to works parodying or decrying the foibles of society. Because of its intimate, informal nature, drawing has traditionally been the medium of choice for the exploration of humor in its many forms.

In the early modern period, paper, while relatively affordable, was by no means a cheap material, so it is perhaps somewhat surprising that a remarkable number of drawings survive that seem to have no other function than the amusement of their maker. Envisaging a somewhat wider audience, humorous drawings such as caricatures often served sophisticated social functions, such as strengthening bonds between members of the same community or political group. A double-edged sword, caricature is also inextricably linked to the sometimes-merciless cruelty with which it attacks its targets. Just as the boundaries between the informal depiction of human types and the caricature of specific individuals are porous and difficult to define, so the line between amusement and abuse is often labile or hard to draw.

The humorous core of more complex compositions showing multiple figures—whether obviously caricatured or not—often lies in class parody, moral and social commentary, or biting political criticism. The drawings in this section showcase some of the most common humorous strategies: the insertion of “low” scatological details (frequently related to bodily functions or excesses), the juxtaposition of perceived opposites (class, age, sex), or the scrambling of traditional categories (human vs. animal, real vs. imaginary) for comedic effect. In the most accomplished examples, humorous drawings not only deploy complex communication strategies, but also provide a source of escapist relief that, centuries later, continues to attract, amuse, and delight.

Process and Purpose

Whether highly finished or barely sketched out, all the drawings in this eclectic selection constituted but one stage in a longer creative unfolding. Some provide insights into their makers’ processes while others feature unusual materials or techniques. Many were clearly models made in preparation for a painting, a print, a stage set, or a printed textile. In the period covered by this exhibition, drawings created as finished, independent works of art represent a small fraction of the number of sheets artists drew to practice their hands, to record what they saw, to invent compositions, to work out solutions, or to communicate and collaborate with other makers.

Since the early Renaissance, art theorists have traditionally discussed drawing as the foundation of the visual and plastic arts—the unifying activity and principle behind artistic creation in all media. In Italian, the language in which early European theories of art were formulated, the term for drawing—disegno—encompasses a variety of nuances absent from its English equivalent. At the most basic level, disegno refers to a drawn sheet of paper, but it also encompasses the meaning of design, both in its acceptation of plan or blueprint and its more abstract sense of idea or conception. Fittingly, for the works selected, disegno can also mean aim, intention, or purpose.

In the often-messy generative journey from invention to realization, drawings were manipulated in a striking variety of ways. They were left unfinished, painstakingly completed, or impatiently reworked; cut up or patched up; handled, annotated, or developed by different people; passed through a press, copied, and traced; and even folded up, sealed, and sent as letters. The examples shown here celebrate both the versatility of the medium and the protean ingenuity of their makers.

Painterly Drawings

The use of color has often been thought of as separate, if not antithetical, to “pure” drawing, strictly defined as a graphic (i.e., linear) and monochromatic medium. A lingering trace of this narrow understanding can be detected in the habit of discussing watercolors as a slightly different category from other drawings. While the extensive use of multiple colors was a relatively late development in the history of European drawing, graphic artists have always made use of color to fulfill their heuristic and aesthetic aims.

The increase in the use and variety of colors in drawing is the result of multiple factors, such as changes in taste, the availability of new materials—for instance, commercially produced pastels and watercolor boxes or wove papers better suited to the application of watercolor —and the rise of the category of the finished drawing as an independent work of art. Although oil paint was occasionally used on paper, most drawings in color (and all the ones in this section) were executed with either colored pastels or watercolor. Pastels are fabricated colored crayons composed of pigments and a binder. Once mixed into a paste, molded into sticks, and dried, they could be sharpened and used exactly like a piece of chalk. Known since at least the 1400s, pastels were occasionally used during the sixteenth century, but much more commonly employed during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

As its name suggests, watercolor is a medium consisting of pigments suspended in water and colorless colloid substances (such as gum arabic or egg white) that cause the medium to adhere to paper when applied with a wet brush. Depending on its composition, watercolor can be transparent or opaque. Transparent watercolor allows light to shine through the medium and reflect off the white of the underlying paper, producing delicate, glowing chromatic effects. The addition of lead white or chalk to the solution produces opaque watercolor (also called gouache or bodycolor), which evenly covers the paper and does not allow light to reflect through, approaching the saturated visual qualities of tempera. Whether small sketches or highly finished works, watercolor drawings are distinguished by a radiance and luminosity that vies with, and often surpasses, that of paintings.












German & Danish


It is customary, in prefatory remarks, to rightly emphasize the deeply collaborative effort required to bring about a publication of this kind. In this particular case, and at this particular time, it feels especially important to gratefully highlight the team-spirited generosity and support of a number of people and institutions without which Drawing Closer simply could not have happened. The process of writing the catalogue texts and producing and collecting its many illustrations began in March 2020, just as museums and libraries all over the world were closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For many months, access to collections and scholarly sources and services was significantly curtailed, if not entirely suspended. The fact that research could continue and the project could advance in these extraordinary circumstances is solely due to the help and ingenuity of individuals across a number of institutions. It was moving to see how, at a time of enforced physical separation, colleagues came together virtually with renewed determination, resilience, and kindness.

I would firstly like to thank John W. Smith, former director of the RISD Museum; Jan Howard, Houghton P. Metcalf Jr. Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs; and Sarah Ganz Blythe, deputy director of exhibitions, education, and programs and the museum’s current interim director, for giving me the opportunity to organize an exhibition at RISD and for supporting the idea of a show and publication focused on the museum’s collection of early modern drawings. Their professional guidance and wise advice laid the foundations of the project and shaped its focus and direction in ways I found extremely helpful.

The exhibition and digital publication received a catalyzing impulse in the form of a transformative grant from the Getty Foundation, within the framework of their Paper Project initiative. Early conversations with Heather MacDonald and Julie Butash at the Getty Foundation helped me clarify my ideas about the aims of the exhibition and about the exciting possibilities offered by a digital publication. At the RISD Museum, Amee Spondike, deputy director of development and external affairs, and Lauren Faria, assistant director of institutional giving and evaluation, enthusiastically supported the idea of applying for the grant and expertly oversaw the research, drafting, and submission process.

Preliminary research for the exhibition involved a survey and reevaluation of the RISD Museum’s holdings of European drawings made before around 1870. In this process, which occupied the better part of two years, I benefited greatly from the industrious assistance of Dominic Bate, a Brown University graduate proctor in the museum’s Prints, Drawings, and Photographs Department, who uncovered a great deal of new information about the drawings and wrote a number of entries for this publication. The catalogue is also greatly enriched by contributions from colleagues in other departments at the RISD Museum who generously brought their special expertise and viewpoints to works outside their curatorial purview. I am very grateful to Emily Banas, assistant curator of decorative arts and design; Gina Borromeo, chief curator and curator of ancient art; Wai Yee Chiong, associate curator of Asian Art; Jan Howard; Maureen C. O’Brien, curator of painting and sculpture; and Elizabeth Williams, David and Peggy Rockefeller Curator of Decorative Arts and Design, for adding multifocal perspectives to the catalogue and demonstrating that European drawings are intimately connected to all aspects of human creativity in its multiplicitous forms. During my tenure at the RISD Museum I learned a great deal from Andrew Raftery, professor of printmaking, whose insights and sensibility influenced my curatorial approach and who kindly offered to demonstrate the traditional materials and techniques discussed in the catalogue in forthcoming videos, whose production has been delayed by physical-distancing requirements.

Amy Pickworth, assistant director of museum publications and senior editor, and MJ Robinson, assistant editor of museum publications, have been a formidable, and formidably patient, team of editors. They not only provided thoughtful suggestions that improved the style and content of the texts, but also came up with innovative editorial solutions to the unexpected issues arising from limited access to library materials, the heavy reliance on digital sources, and the natively digital format of the publication. A true expert of all things digital, Sionan Guenther, associate registrar of digital resources, oversaw the collection and organization of the numerous images that enrich this catalogue with impressive efficiency and good humor, and Erik Gould, museum photographer, sensitively documented all the drawings included in the exhibition.

Jeremy Radtke, assistant director of digital initiatives, and Carson Evans, digital media fellow, assisted by RISD MFA student Kit Son Lee, helped me conceive and seemingly magically built this handsome digital platform, which, while inspired by the experience of reading a physical book, encourages non-linear exploration, is enhanced by a profusion of multimedia resources, and elegantly insists on giving prominence to the works of art discussed therein.

Heartfelt thanks are also due to Linda Catano, former associate conservator, and Christin Fitzgerald, paper preservation specialist and preparator, who generously shared their expertise on drawing media and techniques, judiciously advised on conservation needs, and assisted with the technical examination of a number of drawings that led to new insights and exciting discoveries.

There are many more people who, through stimulating conversations, shrewd suggestions, and practical assistance, helped me refine my thinking and writing about these drawings. Foremost among them are Edina Adam, Conor Moynihan, Laura Giles, Suzanne Scanlan (whose course on the history of drawing informed this project in numerous ways), Evelyn Lincoln, Leslie Hirst, Jonathan Bober, Meg Grasselli, Alvin L. Clark Jr., Frances Middendorf, Gwen van den Eijnde, and Jacques Khalip.

While my research was still underway, in February 2020 I joined the Art Institute of Chicago as Prince Trust Associate Curator. I would like to thank my colleagues in Prints and Drawings there, chiefly Kevin Salatino, department chair and the Anne Vogt Fuller and Marion Titus Searle Curator, for granting me the time and support required to bring this project to completion. Of crucial importance toward this end was Autumn L. Mather, director of the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, and all her staff, who graciously strove to provide access to books and essential research materials under extraordinarily challenging circumstances. It is to librarians, to keepers of art collections, and to all those who work to make knowledge more accessible that this catalogue is gratefully dedicated. | JG



General Editor
Jamie Gabbarelli

Emily Banas, Dominic Bate, Gina Borromeo, Wai Yee Chiong, Jamie Gabbarelli, Jan Howard, Maureen C. O'Brien, Elizabeth A. Williams

RISD Museum Interim Director and Deputy Director of Exhibitions, Education, and Programs
Sarah Ganz Blythe

Editor, Museum Publications
Amy Pickworth

Assistant Editor, Museum Publications
MJ Robinson

Assistant Director, Digital Initiatives
Jeremy Radtke

Digital Media Fellow
Carson Evans

Graduate Assistant, Digital Initiatives
Yingxi Ji

Web Development
Oomph, Inc.

Publication Design
Kit Son Lee & Carson Evans

Exhibition Identity
Kit Son Lee, Carson Evans & Derek Schusterbauer

Erik Gould

Video Production
Yuan Li Elizabeth Xu

Prophet & Diatype by Dinamo
Designed by Johannes Breyer, Fabian Harb, Erkin Karamemet, & Elias Hanzer

Drawing Closer was created using Ziggurat, an open-source publishing tool. Ziggurat was built by the RISD Museum in collaboration with Oomph, Inc.

This publication accompanies the exhibition Drawing Closer: Four Hundred Years of Drawing from the RISD Museum, on view at the RISD Museum March 12 - September 3, 2022. This project is made possible by a lead grant from the Getty Foundation.

RISD Museum is supported by a grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, through an appropriation by the Rhode Island General Assembly and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and with the generous partnership of the Rhode Island School of Design, its Board of Trustees, and Museum Governors.

ISBN 978-0-9856189-4-0

All content including images, text, audio, video, and interactive media in this publication are available under CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0), Public Domain Dedication, unless otherwise noted.

Drawing Closer was published online in April 2021 by the RISD Museum.

Errors will be corrected in subsequent editions.