Drawing Attention at the Scottish National Gallery

Ivory, Apes and Peacocks by John Duncan
Ivory, Apes and Peacocks by John Duncan
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HERCULES, the Queen of Sheba and the God Apollo - five centuries of artist impressions feature in Drawing Attention, an intriguing new exhibition of exceptional but rarely displayed drawings go on show at the Scottish National Gallery from today.

From a study of Christ and St Peter by Gentile da Fabriano, the earliest drawing in the collection, to captivating sketches of lions by Rosa Bonheur, one the finest animal painters of the nineteenth century, Drawing Attention brings together some beautiful examples by a wide range of master draughtsmen and women.

Comprising 65 works, the selection mixes familiar names with less well-known, but fascinating figures, including works never before displayed.

One such piece is by one of the great eccentrics of 16th-century, Italian artist Amico Aspertini, who is said to have worked with both hands simultaneously. His small but powerful drawing of Hercules depicts the mythical Greek hero wrestling the river god Achelous as he transforms into a bull.

Guido Reni’s startlingly original The Fall of Phaeton also draws upon antique mythology. Dating from the 1590s, it is one of the finest and most important early drawings by this 17th-century artist to survive.

Phaeton, son of the god Apollo, is shown hurtling from of his father’s horse-drawn carriage as it draws the sun across the heavens.

German artist Matthias Buchinger is also represented in the collection. He was born without hands or feet and was just 29-nine inches tall. Despite his disabilities, Buchinger possessed extraordinary dexterity and was a celebrated draughtsman, magician and performer - he was also a noted lothario, married four times, he had 14 children and was alleged to have fathered more by as many as 70 different lovers.

Other highlights include a large study of three European rock pigeons by the American naturalist John James Audubon and John Duncan’s Ivory, Apes and Peacocks, his lavish depiction of the visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon.

Drawing Attention, Rare Works on Paper, today-3 January 2017, Scottish National Gallery, The Mound, Free, 0131-624 6200