Drawing Basics: The Best Draftsman Drawing Magazine Can't Cover?

Pietro Annigoni drawing, bearded elderly man

We've run features on Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo, and Rembrandt. Wyeth and Whistler, Sargent and Schiele. Cadmus and Kollwitz and Constable. Ingres and Freud and Van Gogh and Prud'hon.

But there's one draftsman we've been wanting to fully explore in a feature article in Drawing magazine but can't, one artist who seems likely to offer a lot of inspiration and information for our readers: Pietro Annigoni.

Annigoni was born in Milan in 1910 and lived in Florence for most of his life. He is known for helping draft a manifesto in the late 40s advocating realism in an art world that was consumed by Abstract Expressionism. He became famous for his portraits, with his popularity seeming to peak in the early 60s. Annigoni is perhaps most famous for a somewhat romanticized portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, a likeness that was chosen for use on several paper currencies in the British Commonwealth. His portraits graced the cover of Time magazine seven times. His most famous student is Nelson Shanks.

We have been unable to secure high-resolution images of his work or even permission to reproduce his arthis estate (Annigoni died in 1988) seems to be in some disarray. So, for the purposes of education, we're posting a few small, lo-res images in the hopes that your appetite will be whetted and that you'll find his images and story helpful.

And I'll keep trying to get a feature article on him together.

Pietro Annigoni drawing--portrait of a young man Pietro Annigoni drawing, young man bearded Pietro Annigoni drawing of a woman


Pietro Annigoni drawing of a draped figure Pietro Annigoni painting of Queen Elizabeth II


Pietro Annigoni drawing of a jouster Pietro Annigoni drawing of a woman's face


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Bob Bahr

About Bob Bahr

Hi. I'm the managing editor of American Artist, Watercolor, Drawing, and Workshop magazines. Drawing magazine is primarily my responsibility so I spend a lot of time looking at drawings, talking with draftsmen, and drawing ... but I love to paint, too.

12 thoughts on “Drawing Basics: The Best Draftsman Drawing Magazine Can't Cover?

  1. Please keep looking for material on Annigioni. From what i see here he is absolutely remarkable. Now you have me curious! I imagine dealing with his estate will be lots of fun.

    Jack Hampton
    Painting in the tradition of “The Old Masters”

  2. Hi Bob,

    I’ve always wanted to see more on Annigoni. He was featured in an American Artist article in the 70’s when I was in HS. He did a demo of a portrait using an egg and oil emulsion that to this day makes no sense to me. He used a sponge to put on color, modeled the forms with fine lines ala Leonardo’s drawings and then put a final white glaze on the thing to even out the color. I got his autobiography where he gives his recipes and I couldn’t get those to work for me at all. I’ve never seen one of his paintings in person except the Queen in London and it is hung so far away from the viewer there was no way to examine the surface. It all makes him more intriguing because I like so much of his work.

    Hoping to see more, Dean Hartung

  3. I won’t give up, Jack. But I may have to wait for his estate to settle down.

    Nice avatar, Dean. It seems familiar….almost like I’ve seen it every day somewhere….

    Thanks for the info on his process. I’m going to do some digging to find out more about the white glaze idea. Very odd! I’ve seen people do it in a finite area to push distant mountains back, but never all over to simply even out colors in oil. The egg and oil emulsion, is this a hybrid of tempera and oil paints?

  4. I’ve been in love with Annigoni’s work ever since one of my teachers showed us a painting (well, more of an oil sketch, really, but still stunning). He brings a post-modern flair to classical subjects and treatments that I’ve never really seen anywhere else.

    I believe Jeffrey Mims has an original Annigoni painting at his atelier studio in North Carolina. According to his blog (http://mimsstudios.wordpress.com/2008/12/12/museo-annigoni-opens-in-florence/), a museum dedicated to Annigoni just opened in Florence, Italy.

  5. Drawing: The Best Draftsman Drawing Magazine Hasn’t Covered – I must agree that Annigoni iwas a wonderful draftsman, but I would like to cast my vote for George Stavrinos. American Artist did an article on Stavrinos in 1984 I believe and he passed away way to soon in the early 1990’s at age 42. Prmarily a fashion illustrator, his highly finished pencil drawings graced the advertising campaigns of Bergdorf Goodman, The New York City Ballet, Barney’s to name just a few

    Today, unlike the other great fashion illustrators such as Rene Gruau, Antonio Lopez et al., it is virtually impossible to find anything on this unique and influential draftsman. A feature story in a future issue of Drawing Magazine would be greatly appreciated.

    Paul J. Tascarella
    Scarsdale, NY

  6. I would check your facts on Nelson Shanks being his student. There are a lot of people claiming to be Annigoni students who were not.

    You might want to talk with Ben Long about Annigoni. He was Annigoni’s longest American student beside Nelson White. Long studied with Annigoni each day for seven years. He continued to live in Florence and in close contact with Annigoni for another eight years. White, however, can answer any question you have about the maestro.


  7. Hi Bob, recently I came across, wrapped in a tarpaulin inside a garage, a drawing which I believe was done by Annigoni. I have had a valuer look at it and he is convinced it is an original. Until this discovery I have not been into the art world.
    The name of the drawing is Barry. Barry also has a history. I would like to send you an email containing a photo of the drawing I have in my possession. If you would like to make contact you can email me at johnnyrotten52@hotmail.com and I will respond with Barry’s history. Regards John

  8. Whoops, almost forgot Bob. If you go to the website Kelly Borshiem posted you will see a poster of her there. The second row in the center. Thanks again