The Renaissance was a ground-breaking period in the history of drawing. Drawing became an art form in its own right rather than just being used in the preparation of other works of art. Prior to 1400 few drawings survive, and it is only in the fifteenth century that we can gain an understanding of how and why artists drew. The reasons for this are threefold: the growth in paper production meant it became more economical to draw; the demand by patrons for originality necessitated artists make more studies to explore new compositional ideas and poses; and, finally a widening interest in collecting meant that drawings were preserved. Drawing was an integral part of how Renaissance artists were trained. Thanks to this education artists were able to express their ideas with extraordinary fluency on paper. The spontaneity and rawness of many of the drawings in this arresting book reveal the minds and working practices of the artists. The use of a variety of drawing tools from red chalk to silverpoint shows how expressive a medium drawing could be.
The drawings have been thematically arranged to demonstrate the major innovations that occurred during the Renaissance: artists captured movement, light, human pose and the natural world more convincingly than ever before. They also approached storytelling in a new way: the figures were infused with a new sense of humanity, and the development of perspective helped create realism.