This exhibition presented drawings from the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries that displayed several modes of depicting figures. Some were drawings of figures or costumes copied from life and intended as preparatory studies for painted compositions. Others were individual or grouped figures that spring from the artist's imagination or are based on his observation of the world around him. Whether compositional studies or finished works of art, all the drawings focused on the figure as a means of exploring form, narrative, or individual spirit.
These works also displayed a variety of drawing media and their wide range of expression. Titian's Landscape with a Satyr evinced a more vital, freer pen stroke than Pisanello's linear handling of the medium in his Studies of Men Hanging. This varied manipulation of the same medium was tied in many ways to the subject of the compositions — one based upon imagination and the other studied from life. Rembrandt's Farmyard with Trees and Figures, Claude Lorrain's Jacob, Rachel, and Leah at the Well, and Goya's The Anglers displayed the remarkable tonal variations created by the addition of colored washes, which warmly evoke the effects of light and shadow. These drawing techniques and modes of figural depiction engage us more intimately in the artist's observation and practice, which lie at the heart of his invention.