(b. ca. 1400, Venezia, d. 1470, Venezia)

The Twelve Apostles in a Barrel Vaulted Passage

Leadpoint, brown wash, 415 x 335 mm
British Museum, London

From Jacopo Bellini, an outstanding artist and the head of one of the largest and most successful dynasties of painters, two complete albums of drawings are known, one in the British Museum and another in the Louvre. Both were originally made with leadpoint, on vellum, the other on paper. In the album in Paris most of the drawings were reinforced later in pen and ink, evidently to make the compositions mare clearly visible. Both albums have been rebound in the past, so the sequence of sheets does not perfectly correspond to the original order given by the painter. However, the sheets need not be in strict sequence as the collection is most heterogeneous thematically, ranging from decorative motifs that could be used for a wall,a chest or a fabric, to details of drawing that were reused in paintings with minor alterations, drawings that are so similar to the painted works that they could be taken as preparatory sketches, and to drawings that were never realized in painting. Sacred and profane themes are similarly intermingled, stories from the lives of saints alternate with blissful childhood scenes, evocations of the distant past enabling fabulous explorations, and the real world of the day, dignified persons and things, men and trees, cultivated fields and simple landscapes.

This drawing is in The London Album, folio 87 recto.