Learning to Draw, Drawing to Learn: Theory and Practice in Italian Printed Drawing Books, 1600-1700
History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology
Italian printed drawing books (libri da disegnare) comprise an important body of evidence for our knowledge of artistic training in Italy during the early modern period. Libri da disegnare are groups of printed images that instruct in drawing the human body through a progression, whether by means of line-by-line instructions, following steps from outline to shaded, or building up the body from its individual features. Intended for both professional and amateur audiences, these printed sources were soon copied throughout Europe where they influenced drawing education for the next 400 years. Tracing the relationship between writing and drawing in the literature of the early modern period, the first chapter explores the origins of the genre within other didactic manuals and within contemporary traditions of elementary education. Next, three case studies explore the ways in which text interacts with images within the genre. The third chapter considers how printed drawing books included or rejected information found in other types of printed books used by artists, such as treatises of anatomy, perspective, and proportion. Such study makes it clear that printed drawing books represent a new type of art literature. The final chapter problematizes the monolithic notion of the printed drawing book and suggests that they be discussed within separate categories: books, series, fragments, and copies. Exploring the origins and forms of the genre in its home country, this dissertation provides a better understanding of artistic education in the decades after the formation of the first academies of art.