<< YCBA Home Yale Center for British Art Yale Center for British Art << YCBA Home

YCBA Collections Search

IIIF Actions
John Flaxman, 1755–1826
Italian Sketchbook, Studies from Florence and Rome, begun 1787
Materials & Techniques:
Sketchbook; graphite, pen and black ink and gray wash on bound in vellum
Sheet: 8 5/8 x 6 inches (21.9 x 15.2 cm), 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 | < ... > | 6-9 | 17 - 5 | 99 - | 118 - 5"

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 appointment in the Study Room [Request]
Note: The Study Room is open by appointment. Please visit the Study Room page on our website for more details.
IIIF Manifest:

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

Wilcox, Forrester, O'Neil, Sloan. The Line of Beauty: British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century. Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2001. pg. 127-129, cat. no. 108 & 109.

Dare to Know: Prints and Drawings in the Age of Enlightenment (Harvard Art Museums, 2022-09-15 - 2023-01-16) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Art in Focus : John Flaxman Modeling Bust of William Hayley (Yale Center for British Art, 2010-02-04 - 2010-05-30) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

The Line of Beauty : British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century (Yale Center for British Art, 2001-05-19 - 2001-08-05) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

David Irwin, John Flaxman, 1755-1826, sculptor, illustrator, designer, Rizzoli, New York and London, 1979, pp. 29-66 passim, NJ18 .F615 I78 + Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

Edouard Kopp, Dare to know : prints and drawings in the age of Enlightenment, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA, 2022, pp. 12, 13, 21, 311, Fig. 1, NC87 .D37 2022 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

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, , Walpole Society, vol. 72, 2010, pp. 119-85, figs. 1-87, N12 W35 A1 vol. 72 + (YCBA) [YCBA]

John Marciari, The Grand Tour : an exhibition held at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library 15 January through 31 March MCMCVIII, Yale University Library, New Haven, 1998, p. 22, N8214.5 .I8 M27 1998 + Oversize (YCBA) [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) [YCBA]

Scott Wilcox, Line of beauty : British drawings and watercolors of the eighteenth century, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2001, pg. 127-129, cat. no. 109, NC228 W53 2001 (YCBA) [YCBA]

If you have information about this object that may be of assistance please contact us.