Drawings at the Getty

Posted in books, exhibitions by Editor on October 14, 2009

From the Getty’s website:

Capturing Nature’s Beauty: Three Centuries of French Landscapes

Getty Center, Los Angeles, 28 July – 1 November 2009


Édouard Kopp, exhibition catalogue (Getty, 2009) $19.95

This selection of over 40 drawings from the collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Getty Research Institute highlights key moments in the French landscape tradition, from its emergence in the 1600s to its preeminence in the 1800s. The exhibition showcases drawings by some of the masters of the genre, including Nicolas Poussin, Claude Lorrain, François Boucher, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Camille Pissarro, and Vincent van Gogh. Together these works reveal a tension between a passion for the real and the quest for an ideal. They demonstrate different facets of the relationship between the artist and the land: from simple record to creative transformation, if not pure invention. . . .


Fragonard, "Ruins of an Imperial Palace," 1759

Jean-Honoré Fragonard made this accomplished drawing while he was a student at the French Academy in Rome. The curriculum was relatively unusual because it actively promoted the practice of sketching outdoors, a sign of landscape’s increasingly elevated status as an artistic genre. In this view of the Palatine Hill as seen from the Roman Forum, the artist adopted a low viewpoint and a wide angle that allowed him to create a bold, forceful composition. Using red chalk, he brilliantly rendered the complex formal interaction between buildings and nature.


Boissieu, "Château Galliard," 1796

Jean-Jacques de Boissieu is best known for his large and delicately washed picturesque views. A trip to Italy inspired his practice of illuminating his compositions with bright sunlight. Yet his palette—dominated by grays—and meticulous attention to detail are reminiscent of earlier Dutch landscape drawings. This style enabled de Boissieu to work quite independently from the artistic trends of his time, exemplified by the works of Fragonard and Hubert Robert. The draftsman carefully framed his motif: an abandoned fortified house in Lyon, his native city, perched on a craggy hill and overgrown by nature. While capturing the atmosphere of the locale, Boissieu rendered the variety of textures with a compelling sense of materiality.

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