Intrinsic to the creative process, drawings allow us a glimpse into the mind of an artist as he or she refines inspiration into art.
Drawings are immediate. They are often less than perfect, sometimes showing changes of mind. Others are preparatory, the first step to a final work which will be realized in oil, marble or bronze. It is in proximity to the artist and to the process of creation that makes drawings attractive. There is no intermediary in these works, whether machine and press, or committee for that matter. From the artist's eye to the paper before us, drawings whether incomplete or finished, evoke a quality something like that of a relic of old, touched and handled, seen and shaped, by one whose talent we celebrate.
A drawing then is like an author's initial draft. Each stage allows one to look into the process of creation, and these glimpses can illustrate how changes brought about refinement, or how the input of a patron might have challenged the inspiration of the artist, or how the interests of the market shaped the artist's ideal into a practical and attractive commodity for a collector.
It was not always the case, however, that the drawings of artists were collected. Sometimes crude, often different than a final work, drawings were once thought to be incomplete - a part of a process far less valuable than the completed, even more substantial artwork itself. Over time, though, drawings did become a part of an artist's oeuvre, bringing the collector as well as the viewer into a more intimate relationship with an artist. And they are practical, too. Great oil paintings may have been available only to princes but a drawing, a drawing could become the possession of one equally sophisticated and yet commanding none of the resources of the Church or of the great houses of Europe.
Presented at the Saint Louis University Museum of Art, this select group of drawings reflect all of these possibilities. Particular treasures include Correggio's "Descent of the Holy Ghost," (1515), Titian's "Venus and Adonis," (ca. 1525-50), and Hendrick Goltzius' "The Dragon Devouring the Fellows of Cadmus," (1588). These works as well as the other drawings of the exhibition illustrate the constant return to the epic stories of Greco-Roman myth or the continued and vital influence of Christian experience. They are intimate masterpieces whose fragility belie the intention and talent of great artists.