Exhibition: ‘Luminous Paper, British Watercolors and Drawings’

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on September 1, 2011

From a Getty press release:

Luminous Paper: British Watercolors and Drawings
At the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, Los Angeles, 19 July — 23 October 2011

Curated by Julian Brooks

Thomas Girtin, "Durham Cathedral and Castle," ca. 1800 watercolor over pencil heightened with gum Arabic (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum)

Watercolor is one of the most challenging artistic techniques—capable of extraordinary luminosity but often resistant to control. Luminous Paper: British Watercolors and Drawings presents more than 25 works of the 1700s and 1800s by some of the greatest masters of the medium, many on view for the first time.

Featuring the work of some of the most famous British artists, including J.M.W. Turner, William Blake, and Samuel Palmer, this exhibition reveals their multifaceted innovations in the field of drawing and watercolor painting. From Turner’s use of his thumbprint to roughen the texture of wash in a whirling seascape, to the reflected and re-reflected light built in layers by John Sell Cotman, the medium of watercolor was transformed beyond recognition. Other artists experimented with novel subject matter or new modes of representation, playing important roles in the development of European drawing and watercolor painting.

“Key works have been added to the Getty’s collection in the last few years as part of an ongoing initiative to build our holdings of British drawings and watercolors to better represent the wider European tradition,” said Associate Curator Julian Brooks, who curated the exhibition. “Many of these works have been recently acquired and we’re thrilled to be publicly displaying them for the first time in generations.”

Among the recent acquisitions is Durham Cathedral and Castle (about 1800) by Thomas Girtin, a dramatic view of a medieval cathedral and castle set on a rocky outcrop above the water, amid the moving light of a bright, cloudy sky. Girtin died of tuberculosis at the age of 27, two years after making this drawing. His rival J.M.W. Turner is reputed to have said “Had poor Tom lived, I would have starved.” Another is View of the Church of Our Lady of Hanswijk, Mechelen (1831) by Thomas Shotter Boys, a central figure in Anglo-French artistic exchange of the period, and one of the most sophisticated practitioners of watercolor. He excelled in capturing effects of atmosphere and mood. (more…)

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