About the research project

The Ashmolean has been awarded a grant by The Getty Foundation, Los Angeles, for a four-year project focusing on the Museum’s major collection of Italian drawings.  ‘The Paper Project: Prints and Drawings Curatorship in the 21st century’ is a new initiative from the Getty Foundation to strengthen curatorial practice in the field of graphic arts. 

The Ashmolean’s magnificent Western Art collections contain around 25,000 drawings and over 250,000 prints by artists from the fifteenth century to the present day, with the Italian drawings collection renowned for its quality and range. The Getty Foundation grant will support curatorial training in drawings scholarship and connoisseurship under the direction of Catherine Whistler, funding two eighteen-month Research Fellowships for early career art historians to equip them to become leading drawings curators in the future. Their activities, including research travel and consultation with distinguished drawings specialists nationally and internationally, will focus on research and writing in preparation for a scholarly catalogue of the main collection of Italian drawings, with an online resource produced as a direct result of this project. The research concerns about 2000 drawings, including works by artists such as Filippino Lippi, Parmigianino, Annibale Carracci, Federico Barocci, Guercino, Carlo Maratti, Canaletto, and Giambattista Piranesi as well as many as yet unidentified artists. The Michelangelo and Raphael collections are the subject of separate research and publications.  A Research Assistant, appointed with the support of the Tavolozza Foundation, brings additional expertise and essential research support to the project as a whole. 

After this four-year project, our aim will be to produce a separately funded two-volume publication of the main Italian drawings collection, based on this research. 

Research aims

To interrogate and evaluate the material and visual evidence presented by Italian drawings from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries so as to produce an authoritative, comprehensive collections catalogue.

To identify and interpret drawings as material objects and visual images created for particular purposes, so as to advance our understanding of Italian drawings using museum-based research methods.

To promote the significance of museum-based curatorial research including connoisseurship, non-invasive technical investigations, studies of provenance and studies in the history of collecting.

Project funders

The Getty Foundation

Tavolozza Foundation

Project start


Project team

Professor Catherine Whistler, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

Angelamaria Aceto, Researcher, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

Rachel Boyd, Ashmolean-Getty Paper Project Research Fellow, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford​​

Ian HicksPast Getty Paper Project Research Fellow (2019-2020)


Italian drawings online resource