Artwork of the Week – Giorgio Vasari

Liverpool artwork of the week 2010-46. ‘Three Reclining River and Lakeland Gods’ by Giorgio Vasari in ‘Old Master Drawings’ at Lady Lever, 22 October 2010 – 2 May 2011

Ah, drawing, I love it, and this one is nearly 500 years old. Who would have thought that back then you could get away with an image of a God pissing in a pot! Probably cause more controversy now – so much for progress.

This is an excellent and fascinating exhibition at Lady Lever featuring 31 drawings from NML’s collection with lots of background information.

There is a great feature on the Lady Lever website allowing you to Zoom in on this and some othe other pictures

About this drawing (text from Lady Lever website)
‘Three Reclining River and Lakeland Gods’, Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574)
Drawn about 1541-2

This scenery design for a play performed during a Venetian Carnival in 1534 is mischievous as well as academic. The man urinating into a bowl symbolises the Lake Garda emptying its waters into the River Po.


The play and scenery were commissioned by a group of young Venetian gentleman who were also amateur actors. The temporary nature of the scenery differs from Vasari’s usual work producing decorative designs for the Medici family palace in Florence.

Zooming into the bottom left hand corner gives a chance to view the signature of the artist and writer Vasari.

By looking closer at the muscles of the Gods, you can see how Vasari made the bodies of his figures more realistic. By applying white lead in a series of crossing lines, known as hatching, Vasari recreated the effect of light falling on the body. This helps gives the bodies a three dimensional quality.

Old Master Drawings: Guercino, Rubens, Tintoretto
at Lady Lever Gallery
22 October 2010 – 2 May 2011. A new exhibition explores why artists have drawn over the centuries – from copying other works to making life studies – and the role of sketching in the creation of artworks. Features 31 drawings from the Old Master collections of the Lady Lever and Walker Art Galleries.