At the Met, Niccolò Giolfino Goes for the Glare

THE DAILY PIC: A drawing shows the Renaissance painter hard at work on light.


THE DAILY PIC (#1472): Niccolò Giolfino’s study for The Arrest of Christ, a painting he completed in 1546, is now in a show about the Renaissance artists of his native Verona. It’s at at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, which also owns Giolfino’s drawing.

We tend to think of Renaissance art as safe and orderly, “normative” because it’s at the root of everything the West later came to call normal. But what I love about it is the kind of eccentricity and awkwardness we see in a drawing like this, and in more of its mates than most people realize.

Of course, what’s especially great about drawings, in general, is that they let us see precisely what an artist most cares about in a painting, without the gloss and polish that standard stylishness imposes on the finished work. Here, it’s clear that the effect of light in darkness – that bright torch of Christ’s tormentors – is Giolfino’s main concern. This drawing is all about its dabs of white.

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