A Small Town on the Crest of a Slope

Fra Bartolomeo (Bartolomeo di Paolo del Fattorino) Italian

Not on view

A leading painter in early sixteenth-century Florence, Fra Bartolomeo was also a gifted and prolific draftsman. Among the vast number of surviving drawings by his hand is a remarkable group of independent landscape studies produced at a time when works of this genre were still uncommon. Achieved with clean strokes of the pen and considerable freedom and economy of line, the rural townscape gives the impression of having been observed from nature. Indeed, the artist frequently traveled the Tuscan countryside to sketch in the open air. Yet the sheet is not purely a study after life: certain details, such as the tall tower at right, closely recall an engraving by Albrecht Dürer, while the trees in the foreground are contrived as a frame for the scene beyond. Fra Bartolomeo adapted this composition for the background of a painting of the Nativity (Art Institute of Chicago).

A Small Town on the Crest of a Slope, Fra Bartolomeo (Bartolomeo di Paolo del Fattorino) (Italian, Florence 1473–1517 Florence), Pen and brown ink

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