Drawing and the Early-Modern Graphic Imagination

Drawing and the Early-Modern Graphic Imagination is a collaboration between the Centre for Visual Culture and the University of Mainz. The project will run two colloquia, one in Cambridge (27th and 28th November 2019), the other in Germany (2020). The project is supported by the DAAD-Cambridge Research Hub for German Studies, in collaboration with the University of Mainz.


  • Dr Alexander Marr (Cambridge)
  • Prof. Elisabeth Oy-Marra (Mainz)

The first colloquium explores the notion of an early modern “graphic imagination” and how this manifested in drawing practices. The event builds on recent work on the phenomenology of drawing: how semi-finished or non-presentational drawings attest to the workings of the ingenium (i.e. wit, Verstand, inventive capacity) in tandem with an artisanal “active hand”. Rather than taking a connoisseurial view of sketches as collectible objects or a conventional art historical approach to drawings simply as preliminary compositions, we will explore the ways in which “invention” was worked out materially and in bodily acts. How did artists and critics connect this kind of embodied art-making to mental processes? What were the roles of swiftness, improvisation, and economy in the graphic imagination, and how were they conceptualised? How did “unfinished” drawings engage the beholder’s imagination?

Keynote speaker:

  • Prof. Nicola Suthor (Yale University)

A collaboration between the Centre for Visual Culture, University of Cambridge, and the University of Mainz.

Funded by the DAAD-Cambridge Hub for German Studies.

Organizers: Alexander Marr (Cambridge) & Elisabeth Oy-Marra (Mainz)

27th November

Lecture Hall, Trinity Hall College

16:00: Keynote Lecture

Nicola Suthor (Yale): Macchia versus Memoria? Outlining Inner Images

17:30: Drinks

28th November

Graham Storey Room, Trinity Hall

9:30-11:00: Session I

David Zagoury (Bibliotheca Hertziana, Rome): Graphic Autohypnosis ca. 1530

Claudia Reufer (FU, Berlin): Imagination and Figural Dimensions in Drawings of the Cinquecento

Lucia Tantardini (Cambridge): From ingegno to disegno: Grotesque and Climactic Invention

11:00-11:30: Coffee

11:30-13:00: Session II

Claudia Steinhardt-Hirsch (Friedrich-Alexander University, Erlangen): Line – Scripture – Sign. On the Indexicality of Drawing in Early Baroque Florence

Iris Brahms (FU, Berlin): Iteration and Variation at the Margin. Paper as campo for Images and Experiments in the Case of Lodovico Cardi, called il Cigoli   

Morgan Ng (Cambridge): Renaissance Pavements as Imaginative Surfaces

13:00-14:00: Lunch (speakers only)

14:00-15:30: Session III

Elisabeth Oy-Marra (Mainz): The Economics of Imagination? The Use of Chalk and Charcoal in Drawings by Tintoretto and Lanfranco

Lisa Jordan (FU, Berlin): Time – Space – Motion. Guercino’s leggiadra penna

Heiko Damm (Mainz): Abbreviation, Cursoriness and Omission in Luca Giordano’s Drawings

15:30-16:00: Coffee

16:00-17:30: Session IV

Elvira Bojilova (KHI, Florence): The Expression of the Line

Alexander Marr (Cambridge): On Insinuation

Hanneke Grootenboer (Radboud, Nijmegen): The Manner in which ‘the Painter Thinks’: A Metaphysics of Drawing

19:30: Dinner (speakers only)