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Studies of Three Candlesticks
Attributed to Domenico Campagnola (Italian, 1500 - 1564)
about 1530 - 1550
Pen and brown ink
29.8 x 18.4 cm (11 3/4 x 7 1/4 in.)
Gift of Spencer A. Samuels in memory of Mitchell Samuels
Elaborate stone fixtures carved by the ancient Romans inspired Renaissance artists to create complex decorations called candelabra. These ornamental forms were usually composed of elements drawn from metalwork and architecture. On this sheet, Domenico Campagnola created three designs from stacked vases and pedestals, alternately upright and overturned. He then arranged combinations of putti, human figures, trailing foliage, and bucrania around each form.
Artists designed such intricate candelabra not just as functional objects like candle or torch supports; they also appeared as decorative motifs. Such forms ornamented the margins of printed books and filled the edges of frescoes. Parallel hatched lines down the sides of each candelabrum in this drawing give each form a sense of depth. But the clarity of the lines also suggests that the drawings could have transferred for engravings. Pattern books containing prints organized by their ornamental themes became popular in the Renaissance, when craftsmen used these books to create ornaments in a variety of media.