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Sketchbook of Figure Studies

Artist:
Thomas Sully (American, Horncastle, Lincolnshire 1783–1872 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Date:
1810–20
Medium:
Cardboard (cover) Drawings in ink, wash, and graphite on light brown laid paper with fibers of mixed composition (sheets)
Dimensions:
Cover: 9 x 11 1/2 in. (22.9 x 29.2 cm) Sheets: 8 13/16 x 11 1/2 in. (22.4 x 29.2 cm)
Classification:
Drawings
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1953
Accession Number:
53.182
Not on view
Sully arrived home from a year's study in London on April 16 and precisely three months later purchased a fat sketchbook. The top of the first sheet in the book is inscribed “Sketches from different Masters / TS / Philadelphia July 16, 1810.” This notation suggests that Sully intended to continue his study of European art at home. The hundreds of drawings on both sides of eighty-three sheets cover a wide variety of subjects. A site of inspiration and study, the book contains drawings after works by David, possibly Michelangelo, Reynolds, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, and other European masters, for the most part taken from prints. Sully was not slavish in using his sources; he took incentive from other artists and obviously felt free to rearrange compositional elements. Only a few of the drawings in the sketchbook can be linked to oils by Sully. Rather, they record his ideas and concepts--paths not always taken--executed to satisfy the artist’s ambition and to challenge his talent and intellect.
This image represents one of 166 pages in this sketchbook.
Inscription: [on inside cover at upper left in ink]: Suitable architectual/ Background full length/ in the work called L'Api Italiana; [on 53.182.1 recto at top in ink]: 1810/ Sketches from different masters -/ TS.-/ Philadelphia July 16. 1810
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