Welcome to the British Museum in the Google Cultural Institute. Here is a selection of materials telling the story of the famous Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo.
Throughout history drawing has remained the ultimate thinking medium. From the Renaissance to the present artists have used drawing to generate ideas, develop concepts and solve problems. Structured around different types of thought process, this exhibition places historical and contemporary works side by side to examine the minds of some of the world's greatest artists in operation.
This sketch was most likely made by <b>Rembrandt</b> in the open air, noting down a motif for development back in the studio. The artist often carried a small sketchbook with him for this purpose.
<b>Piet Mondrian</b>'s studies from nature helped him to refine his appreciation of formal relationships. He carried such drawings with him to his studio in Paris, where they laid the foundation for the development of his mature work, including his celebrated grid paintings.
Drawing can help artists to quickly visualise an entire composition. Here <b>Wolf Huber</b> quickly sets down an idea for a <b>‘Last Judgement’</b>.
The human figures are fluently articulated, yet sparing.
While the figure of God is a minute figure in the distance, set down in shorthand.
This figure is also set down in an extremely economical manner, showing the pace at which Rodin was working. Producing scores of drawings per day from a model who moved about in front of him, <b>Rodin</b> often drew without taking his eyes from the figure. Rather than direct studies for a sculpture, he considered them parallel investigations.
<b>Hepworth</b> also considered drawing to be a parallel practice. Although related to the later sculpture, <b>'Winged Figure'</b> (1957), it captures the spirit and energy of a first thought, rather than being a two-dimensional blueprint of a three dimensional-work.
This sheet of studies was produced while <b>Jacques Callot</b> was still a student at the Medici court.
His studies in red chalk from an écorché (flayed) sculpture by the artist <b>Lodovico Cigoli</b> reflect standard practice for artists wishing to learn about human anatomy.
Yet these studies seemed to inspire more unorthodox ideas in the numerous surrounding characters, prefiguring <b>Callot</b>’s celebrated comic print series <b>'Dances of Sfessania'</b> and <b>'Gobbi'</b> (1621-25).
This sketch by <b>Michelangelo</b> is a study for his <b>'Last Judgement'</b> (1635-41) on the wall of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, Rome. He brainstorms configurations of bodies in defiance of gravity, zooming in to focus on a single figure, and then out again to take in the whole group.
This figure gesturing with their outstretched hand...
.. is seen reprised to the right.
The group of crouching saints - St Sebastian holding a fistful of arrows, St Catherine her wheel - are reimagined in different positions above and to the left.
While this angel strangling a damned soul was removed from the composition altogether, perhaps deemed to violent for the papal chapel.
Here the British artist <b>Richard Hamilton</b> brainstorms ideas in response to a passage in James Joyce’s <i>Ulysses</i> (1922). The passage in question imagines Leopold Bloom relaxing in a warm bath, his genitals a <i>‘languid floating flower’</i>.
While the mushroom might not have any textual precedent, it was probably included as part of the stream of consciousness, and for the sake of any further ideas it might spark.
Rather than responding to a piece of text, <b>Andrea del Sarto</b> brainstorms ideas for representing an action. The pointing gesture of the naturalistic looking youth suggests that it is probably a study for John the Baptist, commonly portrayed with a pointing finger because he had identified and borne witness to Christ.
<b>Rachel Whiteread</b> made this study in order to examine the interlocking pattern of shapes in the parquet floor of her flat in Berlin, where she spent a year from 1992-3. The highly subjective nature of the ink line contrasts with the rigid graph paper of its support.
In this probing enquiry into the position of the hand of Adam for his famous engraving <b>'Adam and Eve'</b> of 1504, <b>Albrecht Dürer</b> even picks up the veins on the arm of his model.
The model has adopted the pose of the recently discovered classical sculpture, the Apollo Belvedere.
Yet the faces of both figures are omitted, as <b>Dürer</b> concentrates on the instrument of humanity's downfall: the grasping hand.
<b>Cézanne</b> drew from this plaster sculpture of Cupid for a period of over thirty years. While it may seem unfinished, it is likely that <b>Cézanne</b> left out the figure’s right leg in order to accentuate its dynamic thrust.
This elliptical work by the contemporary artist <b>Ariane Laroux</b> was made in a jewellers shop.
All the professional detritus is carefully delineated on the table top, including a bottle of glue, a shell and a wine glass.
The portrait of the jeweller at work is not immediately apparent as the objects take central place in the composition.
Similarly to the work by Cézanne, although the drawing may appear unfinished, <b>Laroux</b> leaves the empty space on purpose, claiming <i>'the drawing is finished when the white of the paper is transformed'</i>.
This is one of thousands of drawings made by the French author <b>Victor Hugo</b>. It employs unorthodox experimental techniques, including a stencil to leave the reserve of white paper in the shape of a castle.
Blotting to create the appearance of storm clouds.
And dragging ink to create the appearance of what could either be shafts of light, or sheets of rain.
In the keen attention paid by <b>Antoine Watteau</b> to these hart's-tongue ferns, the artist has also captured an extremely unconventional view of an eighteenth century house in the background, as if an accidental by-product of the original enquiry.
Here <b>Andrea Commodi</b> depicts the fall of the rebel angels, one of many studies for a never-completed fresco commissioned for the Palazzo Quirinale, Rome.
It was drawn on the outer sheet of a letter, sent to the artist in Florence. The address can be seen in the upper left.
The wax seal is visible upper right. The sketch was shaped by these arbitrary elements; the angels twist round to accommodate them as if they were architectural features in the planned fresco.
This work by the Ethiopian-American artist <b>Julie Mehretu</b> is built up in layers. Each stratum of marks is made response to various architectural plans and maps, like a kind of palimpsest.
This drawing by <b>Rembrandt</b> was made in response to a print after a work by his friend and rival <b>Jan Lievens</b>, <b>'The Raising of Lazarus'</b> (1630).
Christ presides over Lazarus's tomb.
This tomb then became the imaginative impetus for a sketch of the Entombment - Christ being carried down into the same tomb that Lazarus rises out of.
<b>Albrecht Dürer</b> made this study in preparation for an engraving of <b>'Nemesis'</b> - the classical goddess of retribution.
The figure was constructed according to a canon of proportion devised by the Roman theorist Vitruvius. The incised squares are evident in the two small dots of ink marking the end of each line. One can also see where the buttocks have been scratched out and redrawn in the square above.
While the wings on the right are smaller and furled, those on the left, spread out, are much closer in style to the final composition.
This fascinating working drawing by the British artist <b>Bridget Riley</b> offers us insight into her decision-making process.
The note to self helps to clarify the artist's intentions.
The first attempt at the central passage has been covered up by a collaged piece of paper.
This study for a print by <b>Sébastien Leclerc I</b> is exceptionally highly detailed. It depicts the imaginary union of the Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Fine Arts.
Although at first sight it seems highly polished, the drawing is actually a collage of many cut and pasted pieces of paper. These are visible in the joined edges which follow the top of the globe and outline the figures just in front of it.
Many of the pursuits depicted including anatomy, drawing and geometry were considered essential for both artistic and scientific training, yet the union of academies remained an imaginary ideal.
The South African artist <b>William Kentridge</b> uses charcoal as one of his primary artistic mediums because of its ease of manipulation. <i>'It became a way of thinking, rather than a physical medium for me,'</i> he noted.
While such charcoal drawings often form the basis of his stop motion animations, this is an independent work. The arc shape of the composition implies continuation beyond the limits of the drawing - like a tranche of crowd - echoed in the fan-like blinkers over the eyes of the central figure.