Studies for paintings

Few artists when planning a painting draw directly onto a blank canvas without making drawings first. Preparatory drawings were essential for the Pre-Raphaelites, because their pictures were often complex compositions of many figures with intricate backgrounds.

This was not just the practice of the Pre-Raphaelites. It was standard for artists from the Renaissance onwards to experiment with different ideas for a picture, by making studies for individual details and for the whole composition. Often they would try out figures in different positions. Artists were also taught to draw a figure nude first, to get the anatomy correct, and then to draw it clothed.

Such studies enable us to see the artist's mind at work, and to understand the processes involved in creating a painting.

Gallery of studies for paintings