In drawing or painting from live models and real landscapes, more was at stake for artists in early modern Italy than achieving greater naturalism. To work with the model in front of your eyes, and to retain their identity in the finished work of art, had an impact on concepts of artistry and authorship, the authority of the image as a source of knowledge, the boundaries between repetition and invention, and even the relation of images to words. This book focuses on artists who worked in Italy, both native Italians and migrants from northern Europe. The practice of depicting from life became a self-conscious departure from the norms of Italian arts. In the context of court culture in Rome and Florence, works by artists ranging from Caravaggio to Claude Lorrain, Pieter van Laer to Jacques Callot, reveal new aspects of their artistic practice and its critical implications.
Sheila McTighe is Senior Lecturer at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. She has written about Nicolas Poussin, Annibale Carracci, caricature, and genre painting and prints, focusing on 17th-century Italy and France.