Vittore Carpaccio, Studies of a Seated Youth in Armour

Artist | Vittore Carpaccio (ca. 1460–ca. 1526)
Title | Studies of a Seated Youth in Armour
Date | ca. 1505
Medium | Black chalk, point of brush and gray wash, highlighted with white gouache, on blue paper 
Dimensions | 190 x 180 mm
Institution | The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Credit line | The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1954
Theme | The Human Form
Museum number | 54,119 

Vittore Carpaccio (ca. 1460–ca. 1526) was born in Venice, son of Pietro Scarpazza, a furrier. While Carpaccio’s technique and working method are greatly indebted to Giovanni Bellini (1431/36–1516), they are also influenced by the practice of late Paduan painting. More drawings survive by Carpaccio than by any other contemporary Venetian artist. Representing different degrees of finish and a variety of subjects, the majority of these sketches have a didactic and preparatory function for painted images. His Studies of a Seated Youth in Armor, ca. 1505, underscores the role of blue paper for producing drawings with a wider tonal range to explore the effects of chiaroscuro. The sheet depicts a young man posed as if seated on horseback, with his arm raised. It is possible that this drawing was produced in preparation for a painted composition depicting St George slaying the dragon. However, the saint is represented differently in Carpaccio’s extant paintings for the Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni (ca. 1502–1508). Carpaccio employs brush and gray wash, as well as white gouache to accentuate the highlights, which imbue the drawing with a certain softness, while retaining solid contour.