The Poetry of Light: Venetian Drawings from the National Gallery of Art, Washington

About the Author

Andrew Robison has been senior curator of prints and drawings at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, since 1974. He has curated a large number of exhibitions over the course of his long career, focusing in particular on art from the 15th to 19th century, prints and drawings, Rembrandt, Venetian artists of the 18th century, German expressionists, and Pablo Picasso.

The Poetry of Light: Venetian Drawings from the National Gallery of Art, Washington

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Andrew Robison

It has often been said, from Vasari on, that Venetian artists favored painting over drawing. Although this idea has appeal, it is inaccurate. Drawings are abundant in Venetian art from the early 15th century onward, and many drawings were completed as finished works of art in themselves. The striking effects of light in Venice—soft light diffused by humidity in the atmosphere, brilliant light from penetrating sunshine, and dancing light and shadow reflected from constantly moving waterways—led artists to describe in drawing a poetry of light.


The extraordinary collection of Venetian drawings in the National Gallery of Art is presented here for the first time. The catalog contains 144 works by great Venetian masters—including Bellini, Titian, Veronese, Tiepolo, and Canaletto—as well as works by renowned American and British artists, such as Sargent and Whistler, who drew inspiration from the city in the 19th century. An essay by Andrew Robison introduces the topics and themes addressed by the artists, and concise and informative descriptions accompany full-page reproductions.

  • Softcover
  • 384 pages
  • Published: 2015

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