For centuries, artists and art circles were engaged by paragoni, debates over the comparative worth of different modes of artistic expression. One paragone pitted disegno (drawing) against colorito (the use of color), an opposition categorized by the Swiss art historian Heinrich Wölfflin as “linear” versus “painterly” painting. Sometimes the two approaches coexisted in relative proximity, as in the work of Renaissance Florentines obsessed with preparatory drawing and their Venetian contemporaries reveling in directly brushed, rich hues. Usually, one or the other was deemed more significant and desirable, with drawing gaining the upper hand in the official academies, where students...


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