Artist Verrocchio would use drawings as a way of guiding his studio assistants as they completed elements of his commissioned artworks. It ensured a signature style from all those who he taught and also a consistently high level of quality. The majority of his drawings that still remains today are female portraits, displaying his style of blending shadow and highlight seamlessly.
This study sketch, titled Study of an Ideal Female Head, was completed in black chalk and remains perhaps in the best condition of any of this artist's work in this medium that has survived to the present day. White heightening was used to add further contrast between different areas of the composition.
The Renaissance contained some of the most highly skilled draughtsmen in history and remains a highly researched aspect of this ground-breaking movement. Italians believed that without skills in drawing, artists could not be considered worthy of note, where as in other countries such as Spain (Diego Velazquez's tutorship in drawing was unusually thorough) views were a little more flexible. By reducing artworks down to their rawest form artists were also able to teach their upils specific techniques and styles that they wanted them to learn.
When discussing Renaissance draughtsmen we tend to focus of Raphael, Michelangelo and Da Vinci but it was Verrocchio who imparted much of the latter's early insights in this medium. Da Vinci continued the style and technique used within this Study of an Ideal Female Head into his own work and would even start to spread this approach across other parts of Italy as he began to travel across the country.