In our three tours of Italy we never seemed to have time to visit all of the historic places that have captured our interest. Rome, Florence, Pisa, and Venice are the, “must see, spend two weeks in each place and still not see it all” wonderment’s of Roman, Renaissance and Modern Italy. The smaller towns like Lucca, Orvieto and Fiesole have so much culture and history it is hard to imagine not visiting. In this section I hope some of the joy and wonder from my understanding of iconic Italian architecture comes through.

IL COLOSSEO,

graphite on paper, 2010, 14 x 12.5, $2200

I drew this view of the Flavian Amphitheater, aka the Colosseum, to highlight the de-construction and show how the nearly 2000 year old structure looks today. While the columns and capitols that adorn the standing outside wall are iconic, the view into the interior hallways had more mystery. This drawing looks inside the passage ways of the outer two rings and up at the inside of the still standing north outer wall. My drawing was created by combining the ambiance of the afternoon sunlight and nighttime lights. The Colosseum was built by Vespasian and his son Titus between AD 69 and AD 80. The square blocks of travertine, tufa, and the brick and marble are held together with iron clamps, not mortar. In almost continuous use between AD 80 and 1550 the Colosseum has housed many activities other than gladiators; now days it is religious services and rock concerts. Restoration, reconstruction and capping of the remaining structure began in 1805 and continues to this day.

SANTA MARIA della SALUTE,
2012, graphite on paper, 14.5 x 19.5, $3300.

From the outside, the two domes and two bell towers make this church a baroque icon of Venice. Under the main dome is the octagonal rotunda or nave where the 6 foot wide polished silver chandelier hangs over the polychrome marble mosaic floor. Called a ‘Minor Basilica’, the Chiesa Santa Maria della Salute (The church of Virgin Mary of Good Health) is located in the Dorsoduro district of Venice, Italy, cattycorner across the Grand Canal from San Marco. It was built as a tribute to the city’s delivery from the black plague. The unusual octagonal design by Baldassare Longhena was commissioned in 1630, consecrated in 1681, and completed in 1687. The mosaic floor is a symbolic reference to the Marian Rosary, with thirty roses ringing the center of the nave. Under the smaller dome, across the nave from the grand entry way, is the main chapel and altar dedicated to Santa Maria. There are six smaller chapels, three on either side of the main chapel, some decorated with paintings and frescoes by Titian and Tintoretto.

BASILICA di SAN MARCO,

Venice, Italy,
2012, graphite on paper, 21 x 15, $3500.

This image looking down the left side aisle and into the apse was created because I loved the mystery of the statuary and glass mosaic story telling. On the left, is the side aisle leading to St. Peter’s Chapel. On the right is the dome above the Presbytery with the magnificent Ambo, or pulpit, in between. Covered entirely in a background of gold, the mosaics on the walls, arches and domes of the Basilica Catledrale Patriarcale di San Marco (Chiesa d’Oro) depict stories and events from the New Testament, mostly dedicated to St. Mark the Evangelist. The basic structure of the basilica is a Greek cross with a mixture of Italian and Byzantine architecture completed approximately 1094 . The Church has been a work in progress with many mosaics completed in the 1200’s and adornments from Constantinople, Alexandria, Syria, and the Near and Far East being brought in and installed from the 12th to the15th centuries.

SAINT PETER’S BASILICA,
2009, graphite on paper, 15 x 11.5, $2200

Depicting in a drawing the grandeur of the cavernous interior of the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy was equal parts Art & History. Studying and understanding the history helps me define the details and fit them into the complete panorama of my drawing. Every drawing project has a learning curve that gives the artist the opportunity to discover new and better ways to depict their subject, like the details that, when viewed closer, reveal more detail. I love the way afternoon sunlight streams in through the high windows making ‘holy rays’ that highlight the grand transept, creating a focus on the bronze memorial. In 1624 Pope Urban VIII commissioned Gian Lorenzo Bernini to design and build a Baldachin over the Papal Altar and Saint Peter’s Tomb. Bernini worked from 1624 to 1633 to complete his commission. I on the other hand only worked for a couple of weeks to complete this drawing.

THE PANTHEON,

2009, graphite on paper,13 x 9, SOLD

The “Temple of All Gods” in Rome, Italy, was built during Hadrian’s rule as emperor, 117 to 138 AD. In a tribute to Roman concrete, this view looks up past one of the niche enclosures to the dome 142 feet above the floor. In the 6th century the temple was converted from “pagan” to Christian and many of the interior decorations were removed.

ORVIETO ITALY,

2014, graphite on paper, 20 x 15, $3800

At the intersection of six streets in Orvieto, Italy, about 90 kilometers north of Rome, I saw an iconic scene of an Italian Hill Town with Vineyards & villas in the background. Capturing the look and feel of the buildings and cobblestone streets was a worthy challenge for me and my worn-out pencils. This historic “Hill Town,” is known for it’s grand architecture from the 13th and 14th centuries which looks out over the walls and cliffs that have protected the city for over a thousand years. Even though our visit to Orvieto was dampened by one of the worst thunderstorms we’d ever seen, it did not stop me from recognizing the artful scene of this intersection. As I was getting out the expensive paper to begin this drawing I imagined an image of a street scene taken in the morning sunlight. The idea of infusing sunlight and shadows into my drawing only made it more appealing and heart felt. At the intersection of these streets is a little museum, Museo delle Maioliche (Museum of Ceramics) that celebrates the History and Art of the Etruscan, Roman and Renaissance times.

SANTA MARIA del FIORE,

2016, graphite on paper, 20 x 15, $2500

The Piazza del Duomo, which includes Santa Maria del Fiore with Brunelleschi’s Dome, the Baptistery, and Giotto’s Campanile (tower), is in the heart of the Historic District of Florence Italy. As my art mentor and I were walking through the Piazza one evening, I made the comment that I’d like to draw a night time scene of the Dome and Tower. He shook his head, questioning my ambitions, saying that it would be a monumental task to capture a recognizable view with any detail. It took eight years to get up the courage to tackle the project. This is the result. Depicting the night sky and the nighttime lighting of the architecture, in which the details fade into the shadows, required learning new techniques to apply graphite on paper. I love it when a drawing project all fits together into a recognizable composition.

REFLECTION RE – FLEX,
2018, graphite & pastel on paper, 10.5 x 17.5, SOLD

On a fine bright spring day at the top of the hill near the Duomo at base of the Campanile in Siena, Italy, I saw a reflection in a puddle of water in the street that was so intense and intricate it was like viewing a whole different world set out at my feet. I’ve always been fascinated with reflections, realizing that what the eye perceives and mind makes sense of is reflected light. I was attempting to create an Escher-esque sort of drawing, but when layering in the blue sky the work took on a look and feel beyond my own expectations.

Il LEONE,

2010, graphite on paper, 13 x 15, SOLD

In the Loggia dei Lanzi at the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, Italy, I fell in love with the Worried Lion, one of the two 12 foot long stone lions that bracket the stairs to the Loggia. There is so much history and emotion in the art and architecture of Italy it is often difficult to pick a focus for a drawing, but The Worried Lion made it easy because he is such a powerful guardian of the loggia. Carved by Flaminio Vacca in 1600 for the Grand Duke of Tuscany this sculpture is almost a mirror image of it’s Roman inspiration. When the Grand Duke sold his Villa in Rome, both lion statues were brought to Florence.
To the left of the Lion is Perseus, holding the head of the Medusa, a bronze masterpiece by Benvenuto Cellini, placed in the Loggia in 1554. The marble base is a copy of the Cellini/Francesco del Tadda collaboration that has been moved to the Bargello Museum.

PALAZZO MEDICI, FIRENZE,
2014, graphite on paper, 20 x 14.5, $3500

This drawing of the Medici Palazzo is my second attempt to capture the mood of this court yard. In our second tour of Florence we visited the palazzo and got a better understanding of the architecture and adornments. In my drawings artistic license is often exercised for the sake of the composition and aesthetics, but I usually try to stay fairly true to what my eye actually sees. Like the sunlight streaming with an other-worldly grace onto sculpture in the center of the open courtyard. “Draw what you see, you don’t have to make it up too much.”

PALAZZO MEDICI RICCARDI,

2008, Graphite on paper, 13 x 9, SOLD

I drew this image of the Palazzo Medici in Florence, Italy, because one of my artistic heroes, Michelangelo, began his apprenticeship in the Arts here under the patronage of the Medici Family. On our first visit in 2008, the Palazzo Medici Riccardi was closed to the public, but the sunlight streaming into the portioced open courtyard gave the scene an other-worldly grace. I stood for some time looking in through the locked gate, composing in my mind how I might draw the view with my pencils. The Palazzo was built between 1444 and 1460 by Florentine architect and sculptor Michelozzo Michelozzi for the Medici family. The sculpture that dominates the central courtyard is of Orpheus and Cerberus by Baccio Bandinelli, ca. 1515.

PISA DUOMO,

2009, graphite on paper, 13 x 9, $400

This view looks up into the interior of the frescoed dome of the cathedral designed and built by Buscheto at the Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa, Italy. Construction of the cathedral was begun around 1063 (the Leaning Tower, just outside, was begun in 1173). The foreground of this drawing is dominated by the artist’s rendition of Giovanni Pisano’s sculpted pulpit, circa 1303. The panel shown is the “Presentation in the Temple”. A fire in 1595, and allied bombings during WW II nearly destroyed the cathedral and interior art works.

PROPHETS AND PATRIARCHS,

2010, graphite on paper, 14 x 11, $2200

The Duomo di Siena (Cathedral of Siena) in Siena, Italy, was designed and built between 1215 and 1263. The interior of the nave and transept is decorated in black and white marble stripes, the traditional colors of Siena’s civic coat of arms. The dodecagonal dome is supported by six pillars, each adorned with statues of Siena’s patron saints. Above the saints, ringing the dome’s ‘drum’, is a columned gallery of statues of patriarchs and prophets.

SAN GIMIGNANO,

2010, graphite on paper, 12 x 15, SOLD

Looking out of a peaceful alabaster shop window on a warm spring afternoon toward Porta San Giovanni. “The City of Towers”, established in the 3rd century BC as an Etruscan trading village, was later named after St. Geminianus, who defended the city against Attila’s Huns c 452. During San Gimignano’s most prosperous years, 1100’s to early 1300’s, more than 70 towers were built within the city walls. Now only 15 still stand.

SAN MINIATO,

2009, graphite on paper, 13 x 9, SOLD

Overlooking the city of Florence on the Monte alle Croci (Hill of the Crosses) stands the Church of San Miniato al Monte. Behind the thousand year old church is part of the city wall, built by Michelangelo during the siege of Florence, which now encloses the Cimitero delle Porte Sante installed in the 1850’s. This monumental cemetery was created to the taste of the time using Romanesque, neo-gothic and neo-Renaissance monuments proclaiming the greatness of important Florentines and families such as Carlo Collodi (Creator of Pinocchio), painters, politicians, authors and business men.

At The Colosseum

2014, graphite on paper, 9.5 x 7

The Gate

2009 graphite on paper, 9 x 13

Cinque Terre

THE OLD CITY WALL

2008, 13 x 9

The rumor is that Michelangelo had something to do with the designing and construction of this brick and stone fortification around the South side of Florence.

Piazza della Repubblica

2008, graphite on paper, 13 x 9, SOLD

THE GROTTO OF MOSES

graphite on paper, 13 x 9, $500

Palazzo Pitti courtyard, Florence, Italy. The statue of Moses by Raffaello Curradi & Cosimo Salvestrini, 1635, and the statue of The Law by Antonio Novelli, 1635, keep watch over the wrestling and swimming cherubs by Pompelo Ferrucci del Tadda, 1636, in the grotto’s pool. The plaque at the feet of Moses translates from Italian: “Behold the leader of the Israelites as he draws water from the rock.”

Italian Architecture Drawings

I’m staying true to only drawing those things I have seen with my own eyes. Here are some of my Italy Portfolio images inspired by places we visited in our travels.