Exhibitions | Old Masters, Newly Acquired

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on June 6, 2013

Press release (2 May 2013) from The Morgan:

Old Masters, Newly Acquired
The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, 31 May — 11 August 2013

Joseph Ducreux (1735–1802) Portrait of a Gentleman, ca. 1802 Black, brown, red, and white chalk The Morgan Library & Museum Estate of Mrs. Vincent Astor, 2012

Joseph Ducreux (1735–1802), Portrait of a Gentleman, ca. 1802; black, brown, red, and white chalk (New York: The Morgan Library & Museum, Estate of Brooke Astor)

The Morgan Library & Museum’s collection of drawings from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century has grown dramatically over the last few years. During this period, important gifts, purchases, and bequests have both augmented and transformed the museum’s holdings. More than one hundred of these new additions are being featured in an exhibition titled Old Masters, Newly Acquired. On view through August 11, the show presents major gifts from such notable collectors as former Morgan Director Charles Ryskamp, Trustees Eugene V. Thaw and Brooke Astor, and long-standing supporter Joseph McCrindle. Also exhibited are other works that have entered the collection as gifts and bequests, as well as an important group of recent purchases, including a selection of those made on the Sunny Crawford von Bülow Fund.

Particularly significant is a selection of late-nineteenth-century French drawings by such artists as Manet, Cézanne, Vuillard, and Redon, which greatly strengthen the Morgan’s holdings in Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Symbolist works. More than forty Danish drawings form another important group, including sheets by several Golden Age masters, among them C.W. Eckersberg and Johan Lundbye. Outstanding watercolors by British artists, notably John Martin and Samuel Palmer, reveal their mastery of the medium and virtuosity of technique. Highlights among the purchases on view include a delicate sheet of studies by Perino del Vaga, a beautiful pastel by Benedetto Luti, and a dynamic compositional study by Charles-Joseph Natoire.

“The Morgan’s collection of drawings is among the finest in the world, and the institution has been very fortunate to have long-standing relationships with some of America’s most important collectors,” said William M. Griswold, director of the museum. “This exhibition celebrates their connoisseurship and their commitment to the Morgan. We are delighted to present the extraordinary works they have given us, together with a number of our most significant recent purchases.”

Eugene V. Thaw (b. 1927)
Eugene V. Thaw is one of the world’s most prominent collectors of old master, nineteenth-century, and modern drawings. A former art dealer and a specialist on the works of Jackson Pollock, Thaw became involved with the Morgan in the 1960s. Since 1975, when the museum mounted the first exhibition of his collection, he and his wife, Clare, have given or promised to the museum nearly five hundred masterworks by artists from the fifteenth to twenty-first centuries. A major gift in 2010 brought nearly forty drawings into the museum’s collection, transforming its holdings of work by such nineteenth-century draftsmen as by Millet, Monet, Gauguin, Seurat, and Cézanne. Since then, an additional seven promised gifts, ranging from the fifteenth through nineteenth centuries, have entered the Thaw Collection.

Charles Ryskamp (1928–2010)
Charles Ryskamp began his career as a professor of English literature at Princeton University before becoming director of the Morgan in 1969 and, later, director of the Frick Collection. Ryskamp was at the forefront of collecting works by artists of the Danish Golden Age, and his bequest established the Scandinavian school as a new collecting area at the Morgan. His gift also included more than sixty drawings by German, Swiss, Austrian, and Dutch draftsmen that, besides strengthening the museum’s holdings, added many new artists to the roster of those represented in the collection.

Brooke Astor (1902–2007)
One of New York City’s great philanthropists and a Trustee of the Morgan from 1976 to 1983, Brooke Astor assembled a carefully chosen group of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century paintings and drawings. Her passion for animal welfare and her love of dogs are reflected in the exhibition by a delightful Tiepolo drawing depicting a roving band of musicians with their dancing canines. The Astor bequest has also enriched the museum’s holdings of works by French draftsmen. A particularly noteworthy example is a portrait in colored chalks by the eighteenth-century French artist Joseph Ducreux.

Joseph McCrindle (1923–2008)
A collector of rare books since childhood, Joseph McCrindle became a literary agent and founded the Transatlantic Review in 1959. McCrindle was particularly passionate about old master drawings and had acquired more than 2,500 sheets by his death. His bequest to the Morgan brought well over three hundred drawings into the collection. The selection on view reveals something of the range of his collection, as well as its strength in nineteenth-century works on paper.

Purchases on The Sunny Crawford von Bülow Fund 1978
One of the most significant resources for building the Morgan’s drawings collection is a fund established in 1978 by the family of Sunny Crawford von Bülow (1931–2008). Mrs. von Bülow made her first gift to the Morgan—an insightful portrait by Ingres—in 1977. Purchases on the fund have greatly augmented the Morgan’s substantial holdings of works by eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British and French artists, with a particular emphasis on watercolors. During the past three years, the fund has supported the purchase of works by artists previously unrepresented in the Morgan’s collection, such as early watercolors by the landscapists William Pars and Thomas Hearne, and a Roman view by the Swiss artist Peter Birmann.

Other Gifts and Bequests
The Morgan’s collection continues to grow through the gift and bequest of individual drawings. Of particular note in the exhibition are sheets by Girolama da Treviso, Lattanzio Gambara, and Jacopo Ligozzi, which enhance the Morgan’s rich collection of sixteenth-century Italian drawings. Equally noteworthy is a sketchbook by Charles-François Daubigny, which joins the museum’s extensive holdings of artists’ sketchbooks.

Also featured in the exhibition are recent purchases, which Morgan curators have selected to build on areas of particular strength in the Morgan’s collection, as well as to address gaps in its holdings. Newly acquired sheets by Perino del Vaga, Donato Creti, and Fabrizio Boschi have enriched the museum’s exceptional collection of sixteenth-century Italian drawings. Works by Melchior Steidl and Gottfried Eichler, previously unrepresented in the collection, enhance the Morgan’s holdings of later German drawings; a luminous depiction of the Virgin by Benedetto Luti constitutes a significant addition to the museum’s holding of works executed in pastel; and important studies by French artists, including Charles-Joseph Natoire, Eugène Fromentin, and Adolph-Gustave Binet add nuance and depth to this key area of the collection.

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A Collection of Collectors: Taste, Tradition, and the People Behind the Purchases
Friday, 7 June 2013, 7 pm

An informal look at Old Masters, Newly Acquired with Edward Payne, Moore Curatorial Fellow in the Morgan’s Department of Drawings and Prints.

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