Sketches for an Altarpiece for San Sebastiano

Jacopo Negretti, called Palma Il Giovane (Italian, 1548-1628) Venice, ca. 1620
Pen and brown ink
Gift of the John Howett Works on Paper Fund, the Curators’ Council, and the Art History Department Fund

After the death of Tintoretto in 1594, Palma Il Giovane became the most esteemed artist in Venice. He sought to transform the artistic tradition of the city by combining disegno, the ideal of drawing and composition practiced by artists from Florence and Rome, with colorito, the sensuous application of color and tone characteristic of Venetian painting. Palma drew constantly and also collaborated in writing Italy’s first drawing manuals. Sketches for an Altarpiece provides some insight into his design process. The drawing is most likely a preliminary work for an altarpiece, The Madonna and Child in Glory with Saints Jerome and Charles Borromeo, painted for the Church of San Sebastiano, Venice. The repeated groups of figures show the artist’s experimentation with a variety of compositional possibilities.