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This important and original book affirms the significance of drawing as visual thinking in western art from the fifteenth century to the present through an examination of its practice: how and why it is made, how it relates to other forms of visual production and theories of art, and what artists themselves have written about it. The author herself is a practicing artist, and through scrutinizing a wide range of drawings in various media, she confirms a long historical commitment to the primal importance of sketching in generating ideas and problem solving, examines the production of autonomous drawings as gifts or for pleasure, and traces the importance of the life-class and theories of drawing in the training of artists until well into the twentieth century.In the final chapters she address the changing role of drawing in relation to contemporary practice, and its importance for conceptual artists working in a non-hierarchical manner with a multiplicity of practices, techniques and technologies.Quoting the writings of artists from Vasari to Reynolds, Delacroix to Ruskin, Klee and Kandinsky to Beuys, Petherbridge proposes that drawing constitutes a discrete, if engaged, discourse within visual practice, with its own internal economy, its own typologies, codes, systems, materials and strategies of making; its own markets and collectors, its own power relations and self-representations. As well as analyzing specific works by great draughtsmen such as Leonardo, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Goya and Picasso, close attention is paid to those artists traditionally regarded as ‘minor’ because of their graphic elaboration or involvement with caricature and play, as well as to the important contribution of women artists in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.The book is a response to the vibrant rediscovery of drawing as significant practice in studios, exhibitions and art schools, and proposes an ambitious and novel agenda for the study and enjoyment of drawing.