Girolamo da Carpi’s sketchbook, here assembled and catalogued by Professor Canedy, comprises the largest single graphic repertory extant of the antiquities known to a fifteenth-or sixteenth-century artist. More than a thousand sketches survive in the album belonging to the Philip H. and A. S. Rosenbach Foundation in Philadelphia and the portfolio in the Biblioteca Reale, Turin. A few more sheets are preserved in the Department of Prints and Drawings of the British Museum. All the drawings are reproduced, with some comparative material.
Professor Canedy deals with the problems raised by the Sketchbook in a long Introduction. The corpus of Mannerist drawings after the antique and after other artists’ renderings of the antique stands alone in its extent and in its nature. There is no other collection by an Italian artist of stature where figure compositions – as distinct from architectural or ornamental designs – are so abundant. These drawings often supply our earliest evidence of the sixteenth century’s knowledge of individual works of classical art. Where there are invenzioni rather than ricardi, they are not original to Girolamo da Carpi, but copies of other artists’ compositions. Even where Cirolamo’s drawings are apparently made directly from the antique, there seems usually to have been an intermediate composition by another hand. Most frequently, the intermediary is a drawing of much wider importance for the study of the relation between antique and Mannerist art than at first appears. The publication of such a corpus also offers for the first time a secure basis for judging the attribution to Girolamo da Carpi of the seemingly endless succession of Cinquecento drawings of antique sculpture and grotteschi , which continue to appear in collections and on the art market.