Works on Paper

The Picture Gallery’s collection of works on paper contains around 2000 Old Master drawings and 3000 prints. Most of them are by Italian masters of the Renaissance and the Baroque, including Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, Tintoretto and Carracci. There are also exceptional examples by Northern artists such as Dürer, Rubens and Van Dyck. Works on paper can be irreversibly damaged by light and therefore cannot be on permanent display. However, we make our collection available by rotating exhibitions and displays. For current and forthcoming exhibitions, please see our Exhibitions and Events page.


Here are some examples from our collection:


Albrecht Dürer: Knight and Lady

Albrecht Durer's Knight and LadyThis is the finest of three versions of this subject and probably dates from Dürer's mature period after returning to Nuremberg from his second visit to Italy in 1507.

The drawing was used by the celebrated Vischer foundry in Nuremberg to cast bronze epitaphs for two different tombs, that of Count Hermann VIII von Henneberg in Römhild and Count Friedrich II von Hohenzollern in Hechingen.

The varied use of drawings and the importance of this sheet to Dürer can be understood in the fact that the female figure was also used as a model for Salomé's maidservant in Dürer's woodcut The Beheading of St John the Baptist of 1510.








Leonardo da Vinci: Grotesque Head

Leonardo da Vinci's Grotesque HeadLeonardo was fascinated by human physiognomy and began making studies of grotesque heads with various expressions during his first stay in Milan, between 1482 and 1499.

Although this drawing is thought to date from somewhat later, it seems to be the culmination of this series of studies. Some scholars have suggested this sheet might be "Scaramuccia, king of the gypsies"; others think it was a cartoon used for the head of an onlooker in a now lost painting of the Mocking of Christ.

Regardless of the interpretation, the drawing demonstrates Leonardo's dedication to the scientific study of nature in all its forms, even its most unattractive.








Andrea del Verrocchio: Young Woman

Andrea del Verrocchio's Young WomanThis drawing is one of the most beautiful drawings to survive from fifteenth-century Florence. It may be a study for the head of the Virgin in a now lost painting similar to Verrocchio's Virgin and Child, now in Berlin.

The outlines of the depicted face are pricked for transfer, but the surface of the drawing is so finely worked and the hatching so precisely placed, that it may have been kept as a sort of "master cartoon" for future use by assistants rather than a cartoon (a one-to-one model drawing) that could be destroyed after its use.

Verrocchio was a painter, sculptor and draughtsman who ran one of the largest and busiest workshops in Florence, in which many important artists were trained; by far the most famous among them was Leonardo da Vinci.