Exhibition: ‘Italian Master Drawings’ in Washington

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on June 9, 2011

Press release from the National Gallery in DC:

Italian Master Drawings from the Wolfgang Ratjen Collection, 1525–1835
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., 8 May — 27 November 2011

Curated by Margaret Morgan Grasselli

Canaletto, "The Giovedì Grasso Festival before the Ducal Palace in Venice," 1763/1766 (Washington DC: National Gallery, Ratjen Collection, Paul Mellon Fund 2007.111.55)

Splendors of Italian draftsmanship from the Wolfgang Ratjen Collection, spanning the late Renaissance to the height of the neoclassical movement, will be showcased at the National Gallery of Art, Washington. On view in the Gallery’s West Building from May 8 to November 27, 2011, Italian Master Drawings from the Wolfgang Ratjen Collection, 1525–1835 will include 65 stunning Italian compositions and study sheets by the most important artists of the period, from Giulio Romano and Pellegrino Tibaldi to Canaletto, all three members of the Tiepolo family, and Giovanni Battista Piranesi.

In 2007, the National Gallery of Art acquired 185 German and Italian works from the Ratjen Collection—one of the finest private European holdings of old master drawings—with the help of 12 generous private donors as well as the Paul Mellon Fund and the Patrons’ Permanent Fund. “We are delighted to celebrate the second part of the Gallery’s acquisition of this exceptional group of German and Italian drawings formed by the great European collector Wolfgang Ratjen,” said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art. “The Italian portion of the collection is an assemblage of works of beauty and power. Italian drawings were in fact Ratjen’s first love, and he worked on this part of his collection with attentive care throughout his years as a collector.”

ISBN: 9781907372216, $50

Wolfgang Ratjen formed his Italian collection of drawings over a period of about 25 years. He grew up with two that had been acquired by his family during his youth—works by Guercino and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo—and he began collecting himself in the early-1970s. He purchased his last Italian drawing, by Giulio Cesare Procaccini, in July 1997. Ratjen’s collection of Italian drawings is best described as a group of single outstanding works, including famous artists as well as artists of lesser renown. For a select few—such as Jacopo Palma il Giovane, Guercino, and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo—he acquired multiple sheets that conveyed different facets of the artists’ styles or represented a variety of media used.

Organized chronologically throughout three galleries, the exhibition will present works that span three centuries, from the last flowering of the Renaissance around 1530 to the height of neoclassicism in the early 19th century. The works represent a dynamic range of techniques, including quick pen and ink sketches, finely nuanced chalk studies, and highly
finished brush drawings. (more…)

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