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John Flaxman, 1755–1826, British
Italian Sketchbook
Graphite, pen and black ink and gray wash on medium, slightly textured, cream laid paper bound in vellum
Sheet: 8 5/8 x 6 inches (21.9 x 15.2 cm) and Spine: 9 inches (22.9 cm)

Inscribed on flyleaf in pen and black ink upper center: "John Flaxman Sculptor | began at Florence November the 4th | 1787"; in graphite upper left to lower left: "3 ador Magi | question Drs in Temp | driving mony changers | Peter on the Sea | entering Jerus on ass | last Supper | Pilate <...> washing his hands | Scourging | rising from the d.d | descent of Hy Ghost | Apostles | Eldest Doctrs | St Petrie | Petraj servitore agli | Confarsi Donatore = San Paolo | [...] Confesori | Palazzo Gavotte | Strada fortuna"; in graphite upper right to lower right: "1 Annunciation | 2 Nativity | 5 baptized by John | 6 temptation by ye Devil | 9 transfiguration | 10 raising Lazarus | 13 Apostles sleeping & Ld's Prayer | 14 Betrayal of Judas | 17 bearing the cross | 18 crucifixion | Ghirlandaio | Offerings of wise men | angels sarranading"; inscribed in ink inside back cover: "Trinita del Monte opposite Mr Nulti's a corner house | 10 < ... > | 3-4-11 | 3-7-<7> | 10 | 3-4 | 30 | 3-4 | 33-4 | 3-4 | < .

Lettered on back of front flyleaf within bookplate: "GRIP FAST | Sir John Leslie, Bart. | GLASLOUGH HOUSE."

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors-Sketchbooks
Prints and Drawings
Associated Places:
Accessible by request in the Study Room [Request]
Note: As a COVID-19 precaution, the Study Room is closed until further notice.
Curatorial Comment:
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For the British artist studying in Italy, the sketchbook was a crucial tool. There on "classic ground" the act of drawing focused the attention and aided the understanding. Back in Britain the sketchbook provided not only a record of the art and landscape encountered but also a repertoire of poses, figural groupings, and compositional ideas from the ancients and the masters of the Renaissance and Baroque or of richly evocative landscape elements that could be incorporated into their own art. While their sketchbooks show them to have been eager and receptive students, both George Romney and John Flaxman made their visits to Italy as mature well-established artists. Romney interrupted a successful practice as a portrait painter to travel to Italy between 1773 and 1775. Flaxman by 1787 had earned enough as a sculptor to afford a more extended stay in Italy, remaining there until 1794. The Sketchbooks by Romney and Flaxman are each filled with drawings after antique sculpture and works of the early high Renaissance in both Florence and Rome. Romney's sketches are freer and interspersed with original compositional studies; Flaxman's drawings are more disciplined, frequently worked up with pen and ink and wash.
--Scott Wilcox,2001-05
Exhibition History:
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The Line of Beauty : British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century (Yale Center for British Art, 2001-05-19 - 2001-08-05)

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Eckart Marchand, Flaxman: The Yale Sketchbook, Sketchbook Used by John Flaxman During His Stay in Italy (1787-94) Containing Sketches from Florence and Rome, Dated 4 November 1787 , vol. 72, 2010, pp. 119-85, figs. 1-87, N12 W35 A1 72 + (YCBA)

Nadia Tscherny, George Romney : Flaxman modelling the bust of Hayley, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1985 ?, p. 8, no. 22, V 0101 (YCBA)

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