Print Room Showcase Week

The Courtauld Prints and Drawings Room Presents…


The week of the 15 – 19 June is an exciting time for the Prints and Drawings Room. For one week only the staff have selected five of our most striking works on paper for public viewing, focusing on preparatory drawings used by artists to increase the scale of their works, from the sixteenth to the twentieth century.

Between 1.30pm and 5pm our doors are open without an appointment with each work selected for one day only. Our friendly staff are eager to introduce their chosen works to the public and will be on hand to discuss them and answer questions.

Our Prints and Drawings Study Room Assistants introduce their selection…

Monday 15 June, Rosamund Garrett on Tommaso di Andrea Vincidor’s Head of a Warrior, 1520-35, bodycolour and black chalk, The Courtauld Gallery, D.1975.WF.4775 

Head of a Warrior
The bold outlines, simple colour washes and evidence of wear from the loom identifies this profile of a Roman soldier as a rare fragment of a tapestry cartoon. A pupil of Raphael, Vincidor travelled to Flanders at the behest of Pope Leo X in order to prepare cartoons for tapestries to be woven in Brussels.

Drafting full-scale cartoons from initial smaller designs required the artist to be adept at enlargement without distortion, with a thorough understanding of how graphic qualities translate into woven form.


Tuesday 16 June, Tatiana Bissolati on Claude Lorrain’s Arrival of Aeneas at Pallanteum, 1675, graphite, pen and brown ink and bodycolour, The Courtauld Gallery, D.1978.PG.215  

 Arrival of Aeneas at Pallanteum
This drawing is one of the many Claude Lorrain produced for his painting of The Arrival of Aeneas at Pallanteum. It depicts an episode from Virgil’s Aeneid recounting the meeting of Aeneas with Pallas, son of King Evander at Pallanteum, the future site of Rome.

Combining the use of pen and brush in applying ink, the work has a distinct painterly quality, typical of Claude’s drawings. The graphite lines, probably drawn in the very end, show that the sheet played a role in the design process when the artist reflected on the scale and proportion of the image.


Wednesday 17 June, Bryony Bartlett-Rawlings on James Thornhill’s Decoration of the Dome of St Paul’s, 1715-21, Graphite, pen, ink and watercolour, The Courtauld Gallery, D.1952.RW.2228 

Decoration of the Dome of St Paul’s
The decoration of St Paul’s was the most important ecclesiastical commission from Sir James Thornhill, the main English exponent of Baroque decorative painting. This is an early design for the project, which explores the possibilities of ornamenting a section of the dome with illusionistic architecture.

The broad applications of wash and the low viewpoint allow the artist to envision how this decorative scheme would appear in the final large scale work, to be seen from below, from a distance of over sixty metres.


Thursday 18 June, Rachel Sloan on Pierre Auguste Renoir’s Designs for the decoration of a panel, 1895, black chalk, The Courtauld Gallery, D.1978.PG.244 

 Renoir’s Designs for the decoration of a panel
The figures in classical drapery on this sheet, delineated with rapid strokes of black chalk, represent initial ideas for a set of painted wall panels inspired by Sophocles’s tragedy Oedipus Rex, commissioned by Renoir’s patron Paul Gallimard. Initially trained in the decorative arts, Renoir maintained a keen interest in painted decoration throughout his career.

These studies give insight into how he addressed the challenges of translating a design drawing into a different medium, format and scale, including finding dynamic yet balanced poses that would sit gracefully within the tall, narrow panels.


Friday 19 June, Alexander Noelle on Frank Auerbach’s Study for Oxford Street Building Site, 1957-59, Pencil and red pastel , The Courtauld Gallery, D.2010.XX.2 

Study for Oxford Street Building Site
Auerbach recorded in a sketchbook scenes from the construction sites on Oxford Street in London in the decades following the devastation of World War II. Both the recto and verso of this sheet are covered in notations that describe the colours and details he observed in person.

The numbered red squaring grid was added later in the studio as a compositional tool whilst also easing the process of transfer to a painting surface roughly ten times larger.


We hope to see you there!