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Drawing, Inkstand

This is a Drawing. It was designed by Giuseppe Barberi. We acquired it in 1938. Its medium is pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, graphite on off-white laid paper. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

This design for a writing set was intended to be executed in silver. Directions for the craftsperson are scrawled under a small plan in the upper right corner. The scheme resembles a fountain, with Venus rising from her bath at the center. Basins at each of the four corners would contain seals, wax, ink and sand wells, a candle holder, nibs and pens. The sketch at the upper left represents a drawer handle for a hidden writing paper compartment. Rippling strokes of brown wash indicate which surfaces were to be rendered in imitation of water.

Barberi invented and drew fountains throughout his career. Although many were architectural fantasies, he did submit a project design for a Roman fountain to Pius VI in 1778. The motif of the reclining river god, seen here, relates to several of his fountain designs.

Barberi is known for his fluid sketching technique with pen and ink and his dramatic use of brush and wash for shading. This drawing reflects his early training with the goldsmith Luigi Valadier. The artist drew tirelessly but, despite his technical virtuosity, received few actual commissions and thus most of his bold designs exist only on paper.

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Cite this object as

Drawing, Inkstand; Designed by Giuseppe Barberi (Italian, 1746–1809); Italy; pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, graphite on off-white laid paper; 1938-88-8189

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Hewitt Sisters Collect.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Drawing, Inkstand |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=18 April 2021 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>