The artists of later 15th-century Florence were, above all, draughtsmen. Drawing from life was essential for painters and sculptors who were increasingly concerned to record realities of human anatomy, movement and expression. Drawings of ancient sculptures were also circulated. Indeed disegno – the drawing or design – was perceived as the most inventive part of any creative process. The acknowledged ‘masters of design’ were goldsmiths, and it is no coincidence that three of the leading painters of this period received a goldsmith’s training.
Antonio del Pollaiuolo practised as a goldsmith but learned painting from his brother Piero. Drawing, for him, was used to explore the muscular nude in action. Andrea del Verrocchio worked mainly as a sculptor. However, his large drawings of heads and hands were employed as models for his very successful painting workshop. Sandro Botticelli also trained first as a goldsmith but the poetic grace of his paintings derives from his second teacher, the painter Fra Filippo Lippi. Lippi’s son Filippino became Botticelli’s pupil in turn.