Hugh Hudson
Independent Scholar


Volume 6, April 2024   


This article presents a study of two sheets of animal drawings housed in the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, which came from a now dispersed Florentine Renaissance modelbook. The Nationalmuseum attributes its drawings to Paolo Uccello (c. 1397–1475) and his workshop, but without specifying which drawings are by Uccello, who the other drawings might be by, or when the drawings were made. Comparative stylistic evidence from infrared imaging of Uccello’s Saint George and the Dragon in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, and related stylistic evidence, supports the attribution of the two finest drawings on the Stockholm sheets to Uccello and their dating to the 1430s or early 1440s. More than a century ago, Osvald Sirén identified one of the other animal drawings on the Stockholm sheets as close in form to an animal in a painting by Pesellino (c. 1422–1457). A further three correspondences between compositions in the modelbook and animals in Pesellino’s paintings are identified here. A fifth comparison shows a similarity in the style of execution. These correspondences beg the question of whether a young Pesellino could have executed some of the drawings in the modelbook besides those by Uccello. A lack of documentary evidence for Pesellino’s training and the compromised condition of some of the modelbook drawings means answering the question turns around how much weight should be given to this limited stylistic evidence. Nevertheless, new light is shed on the Stockholm drawings’ iconography. One drawing is accompanied by a cropped inscription in Latin, which is reconstructed here for the first time, and indicates the drawing was understood to convey a moral significance. This calls attention to the moral aspects of the training a Renaissance artist could receive when drawing in a modelbook, and how such training could inform the iconography of their work later in life.

Modelbook, workshop, iconography, Uccello, Pesellino



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The Edgar Wind Journal 6: 79-102, 2024
DOI: 10.53245/EWJ-000031
Copyright: © 2024 H.Hudson. This is an open access, peer-reviewed article published by Bernardino Branca