five star london, luxury hotelsEvents In London September 2013

The Draughtsman and His Collection

  • by arobis
In addition to achieving renown as a painter, Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680) amassed one of England’s first  great  collections  of drawings.

A display of a selection of  drawings  from  Lely’s collection  will  be  on  view  in  The  Courtauld  Gallery  concurrently with the exhibition Peter Lely: A Lyrical Vision.



Lely showed a particular preference for Italian drawings of the 16th century  and  the  display  includes  works  by,  amongst  others,  Fra Bartolommeo,  Parmigianino,  Giulio  Romano,  and  Domenico Campagnola. Such works as Polidoro da Caravaggio’s studies of armour  may  have  provided  ideas  for  potential  compositions, poses and drapery in both his portraits and his narrative paintings whereas  the  dramatic  red  chalk  Rearing  horse,  now  attributed  to Francesco  Salviati,  may  have  been  enjoyed  as  a  more  highly finished  example  of  Italian  draughtsmanship.   

Also  of  interest  is the  enigmatic  large  Last  Judgement,  which  is  related  to Michelangelo’s composition for the Sistine Chapel.   Lely seems to have considered his collection both  as a means of self-education  and  an  expression  of  his  taste  and  discernment.  Estimated  to  have  numbered  some  10,000  works,  Lely’s collection  of  drawings  and  prints  was  dispersed  in  a  series  of auctions  after  his  death.   

Each work was stamped with a distinctive PL mark by the artist’s executor and they can now be found in museum collections across Europe and North America.  A selection of Lely’s own drawings will be displayed alongside works from  his  collection.  Primarily hand and drapery studies, these delicate sketches provide a glimpse into Lely’s practice as a portraitist.  A special highlight is his Two heralds in ceremonial dress, a beautiful and highly detailed costume study of figures in a procession of the Order of the Garter.    

Taken together, these drawings  reveal  a  more  private  side  of Lely, as worthy of exploration as his sparkling paintings.

For more information please contact Courtauld Gallery

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