Marco Mansi

PhD Student

Portraying Landscape in Drawing Books c. 1500-1600: Defining a Tuscan Tradition

Supervisor: Dr Guido Rebecchini     Advisor: Dr Scott Nethersole

Funded by The Tavolozza Foundation

My research investigates drawing books of landscapes by sixteenth-century Tuscan artists. In Florence, a city lacking in vestiges of Antiquity, this subject soon became a ground for artistic experimentation, especially in the field of disegno. Dated 5 August 1473, Leonardo da Vinci’s View of the Arno Valley at the Uffizi (GDSU, 8Pr) is the first portrayal of an environment without human figures in European art. Leonardo’s studies of the natural world paved the way for later artists who developed landscape drawing into an independent genre. Still, critical debate concerning sixteenth-century Florentine draughtsmanship has rarely centred around this category of works on paper.


Through the examination of drawing books from Fra Bartolomeo to Cristofano Allori, my thesis aims to highlight the underlying thread linking landscape drawings created over the course of a century. Despite the chronological distance, their technical and stylistic affinities reveal the existence of a local tradition with peculiar, identifiable characteristics. The Italian word taccuino derives from the Latin tacuinum and the Arabic taqwīm, meaning ‘correct order’ or ‘right arrangement.’ My research wishes to return to the original meaning of the term, bringing order to a set of rare fragmentary documents and offering fresh ways of seeing naturalism in Florentine art of that time.


Research Interests

  • Landscape drawing in sixteenth-century Italy
  • Italian artists’ drawing books
  • Naturalism in Florentine art
  • Intersections between observation and imagination in the practice of disegno


  • PhD candidate, The Courtauld Institute of Art (2021-present)
  • MA History of Art, University of Udine (2019-2020)
  • BA Cultural Heritage, University of Udine (2017-2018)