FINE LINES

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Visual Arts -

carry around a note­book and record their ob­ser­va­tions of real life — of peo­ple spon­ta­neously in­ter­act­ing with each other in pub­lic places, for ex­am­ple — and not to erase th­ese valu­able jot­tings. In some cases, we can see he sub­se­quently re­in­forced in ink the rapid notes taken from some­thing seen in the street.

But draw­ings are not al­ways made from life. In some cases, such as the Raphael study for the Madonna with the Fish at the Prado, the pur­pose is to set out the com­po­si­tion of the paint­ing, af­ter which de­tailed sketches from life would be made of in­di­vid­ual fig­ures. The draw­ing es­tab­lishes the most ef­fec­tive plac­ing and at­ti­tudes for To­bias and the an­gel Raphael on the left, and St Jerome — recog­nis­able here by his lion — as well as the cen­tral group of Mary and the in­fant Je­sus.

Here then, the over­all con­struc­tion and the masses of light and shade are what mat­ter most, and the ma­te­ri­als em­ployed are cor­re­spond­ingly dif­fer­ent. The fig­ures have been lightly drawn first with black chalk, then the lights and shades have been blocked in with brush and wash; the pa­per is, as usual, tinted to give a mid-tone; brown wash is used for shad­ows and white body colour for high­lights.

The same tech­niques are used more than two cen­turies later by Tiepolo in his study of the Holy Fam­ily with two an­gels: the fig­ures have been lightly drawn with black chalk, the big ar­eas of shadow have been brushed in with

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