Red chalk on buff paper
Purchased through the Mrs. Harvey P. Hood W'18 Fund; D.995.10
Early in his career Alessandro Tiarini studied in his hometown of Bologna with Prospero Fontana (1512-1597), a collaborator of Taddeo Zuccari’s in Rome. Tiarini later worked from 1599 to 1606 in Florence and Tuscany, where he adopted a more naturalistic style of figure painting. Soon after Tiarini’s return to his native city, Guido Reni (1575-1642), occupied with projects in the Eternal City, transferred a commission to him at the cloister of San Michele in Bosco. By 1615 or so Tiarini had reached his artistic maturity and was patronized by the leading individuals and churches in Bologna and Reggio Emilia.
Renaissance aesthetic theories generally advocated the presentation of the human form in a perfect state modeled after classical sculpture and the art of early-sixteenth-century masters. By around 1600 the so-called Carracci academy (Accademia degli Incamminati) at Bologna promoted art education based on a strong emphasis on life drawing. Tiarini’s study of an elderly male nude reflected an interest in anatomical accuracy rather than a celebration of sensual beauty. Nevertheless, the intensely dramatic pose and highly finished rendering suggested that the drawing was not merely a routine exercise.
Also by 1600 a number of Bolognese artists regularly executed drawings in black and red chalk. The light-colored medium, ranging from a warm blood-red to a cooler red, depended on the minerals found in the source material. Usually harder than black chalk, the natural red type, also called sanguine, was suitable for more detailed drawings. Its lighter tone and ability to produce a range of shades simulating the color of flesh made it an ideal medium for figure studies, and Tiarini’s sheet demonstrates his remarkable command of the material.
Last Updated: 1/21/10