Donatello, Michelangelo, Cellini: Sculptors’ Drawings from Renaissance Italy opened yesterday at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The show, curated by Oliver Tostmann, runs until 19 January 2015. Some of the highlights of the exhibition are viewable on the museum’s site. What caught my eye was Baccio Bandinelli’s painted self-portrait from c. 1545. The oil on panel shows the artist pointing to his large red chalk drawing of Hercules and Cacus. It also shows him with a piece of red chalk. What’s interesting is that the chalk is cylindrical. It must either have been made in a mold or by rolling. It would be very very difficult for a piece of red chalk to be sawn from the ground and be rounded in the way it is.
Bandinelli holds the chalk in his fingers, without a chalk holder. Another painting in the exhibition represents Giambologna seated at a table with drafting materials. One of the instruments is a chalk holder with red chalk. The painting can be seen on the Gardner’s site.