Andrea del Sarto: The Renaissance Workshop in Action

Ever wanted a peek into a 16th-century artist’s workshop? Such is the opportunity offered by the exhibition “Andrea del Sarto: The Renaissance Workshop in Action.” Currently on display at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, this exhibition comprises examples of del Sarto’s artistic production from some of the world’s greatest Renaissance art collections, including the British Museum in London and Florence’s Galleria degli Uffizi.

From the earliest days of del Sarto’s career, he was acclaimed for his talents as a draftsman. Born in Florence in 1430, del Sarto entered the art world at one of its most pivotal junctures, as the tenets of Renaissance artistic production were just being instilled. His early studies were sought in the studio of Florentine master Piero di Cosimo, yet del Sarto’s talents soon outgrew his master. By the early years of the 16th century, del Sarto was in charge of his own workshop of artists, including figures such as Francesco Salviati and Giorgio Vasari, both of whom would go on to become masters in their own right.

Andrea del Sarto

 Study of a Head of a Young Woman, c. 1523 Galleria degli Uffizi Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe

Composed of works on paper interspersed with panel paintings, this show tells the story of the development of a work of art from idea to implementation, and it also offers the visitor a unique glimpse into the artistic process of del Sarto. His included chalk and charcoal drawings exemplify both the immediacy of his strokes and also his indebted study to the natural world. From gentle tendrils of hair to vivacious movement, del Sarto’s drawings illustrate his ability to capture an air of personality within his bold strokes.

One can also witness the evolution from concept to finished composition with the painted panels that are included. A special treat, for example, is the National Gallery’s black chalk study of the Head of Saint John the Baptist, done in preparation for the oil version of the same composition, part of the Palazzo Pitti collection, shown in this exhibition together for the first time.

Andrea del Sarto

 Head of Saint John the Baptist, c. 1523

For those fans of Renaissance masters, this is an opportunity not to be missed! The exhibition stays on at the Getty until September 13th. Can’t make it to L.A.? Not to fret: from California the show heads eastward to New York, opening at the at the Frick Collection October 7th and running until January 10, 2016.

Have you had a chance to visit the exhibition? What did you think? What was your “must see” recommendation?

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