Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, Punchinellos Hunting Waterfowl, ca. 1800, pen and ink with wash over charcoal (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, Gift of Dian Woodner, 2006).
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The Woodner Collections: Master Drawings from Seven Centuries
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 12 March — 16 July 2017
Curated by Margaret Morgan Grasselli
Ian Woodner (1903–1990) assembled an extraordinary collection of over 1,000 old master and modern drawings, making him one of the 20th century’s most important collectors. More than 150 works from his collection now reside at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. While Ian Woodner gave some works himself in the 1980s, the majority have been donated by his daughters, Dian and Andrea. His daughters have also made other gifts and have pledged works from their personal collections. The Woodner Collections: Master Drawings from Seven Centuries brings together for the first time the best of Ian Woodner’s collection with some of the works given and promised by Dian and Andrea Woodner. More than 100 major works of art will be on view in the West Building of the National Gallery of Art from March 12 through July 16, 2017.
The Woodner Collections includes some 100 drawings dating from the 14th to the 20th century executed by outstanding draftsmen such as Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Dürer, Raphael, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Edgar Degas, and Pablo Picasso, among many others. Two highlights in the exhibition are Ian Woodner’s greatest acquisitions, known as his ‘crown jewels’: Giorgio Vasari’s Libro de’ Disegni (sheets probably 1480–1504 and after 1524) and A Satyr (1544/45) by Benvenuto Cellini. Vasari’s Libro de’ Disegni consists of ten drawings by the Renaissance masters Botticelli, Filippino Lippi, and Raffaellino del Garbo arranged harmoniously on both sides of the sheet. It is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful and impressive of the few pages surviving intact. Cellini’s monumental nude is a finished study of a bronze sculpture designed to stand at the entrance to the French royal palace at Fontainebleau.
“Included in the exhibition are many impressive works by well-known artists, all acquired by the Woodner family with an intrepid spirit and exquisite taste. A visit to the exhibition will offer a remarkable journey through many facets of European draftsmanship, revealing the broadly diverse ways the artists responded to their individual worlds and expressed their unique creativity,” said Margaret Morgan Grasselli, curator and head of the department of old master drawings, National Gallery of Art.
The earliest works in the exhibition are two rare sheets from the 14th century: a page from a model book by an unknown Austrian artist, and the other, attributed to the Paduan painter Altichiero da Zevio, shows a band of knights in armor storming a medieval castle. Nearly half of the exhibition is devoted to works from the 15th and 16th centuries, including drawings by Raphael, Leonardo, and Albrecht Dürer. The most important figure in German Renaissance art, Dürer is represented by an outstanding group of five drawings: four figurative works and one vividly colored book illumination, A Pastoral Landscape with Shepherds Playing a Viola and Panpipes (1496/97). Leonardo’s petite Grotesque Head of an Old Woman (1489/90) is both touching and comical. The study of Eight Apostles (ca. 1514), a fragment of a preparatory drawing for a tapestry cartoon, shows the classical rhythms and expressive qualities that are typical of the ‘divine’ Raphael. By contrast, a rare study by Pieter Bruegel the Elder humorously depicts a musician tipping precariously on a three-legged stool. It combines the artist’s lively pen strokes with a keen eye for pose and expression and captures both the boisterous spirit and the clumsy charm of the peasants that populate so many of Bruegel’s compositions.
Among the small group of works by the 17th-century artists, Rembrandt’s evocative View of Houtewael near the Sint Anthoniespoort (ca. 1650) demonstrates his remarkable ability to express space, light, and atmosphere with an economy of means. The 18th century is particularly rich in examples by many French and Venetian artists, including François Boucher, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, and Jean-Honoré Fragonard. A more emotional tone is struck in a drawing of Satan Defying the Powers of Heaven by the Swiss-Anglo artist Henry Fuseli and in two enigmatic compositions by the great Spaniard, Francisco de Goya.
The 19th-century drawings include three elegant works by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and the eerie, powerful image Cactus Man (1881) by French symbolist Odilon Redon, one of Woodner’s favorite artists. Several works from the 20th century close the exhibition: three masterly drawings by the young Pablo Picasso, Two Fashionable Women (1900), a blue-period Head of a Woman (c. 1903), and a cubist Standing Nude (summer 1910); an imposing study of a female nude by Georges Braque (1927); and three drawings by Louise Bourgeois, including M is for Mother (1998), a drawing of a large, red letter M that conveys both maternal comfort and maternal control.
Left: Gilles Demarteau after Edme Bouchardon, Model Posing for ‘The Genius of Summer’, ca. 1740s–50s (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2015.PR.58). Right: Edme Bouchardon, The Genius of Summer, 1745 (Paris: Grenelle Fountain).
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In February, I noted the symposium; here’s the schedule:
Bouchardon and His Contemporaries
The Getty Center, Los Angeles, 2 April 2017
Organized in conjunction with the exhibition Bouchardon: Royal Artist of the Enlightenment (J. Paul Getty Museum, 10 January — 2 April 2017), this symposium explores the relationships that Bouchardon (1698–1762), an extraordinarily talented sculptor and draftsman, had with his contemporaries (artists, patrons, and connoisseurs). It also investigates the diffusion and reception of his oeuvre. Bouchardon’s career as a sculptor appears exceptional in several respects when compared to that of other artists active during the eighteenth century in France, England, or Italy. Atypically, most of his work (whether drawn, printed, modeled, cast, or carved) related to three-dimensional objects in a wide range of scales, from small gems to monumental sculpture, such as the Grenelle Fountain.
The human body was a constant subject of interest to Bouchardon. He explored its inner structure by conceiving and publishing a treatise on artistic anatomy, and he devised a very personal and elaborate aesthetic of the body that subtly blended his passion for antiquity and his commitment to the truthful depiction of nature. His experiments in the graphic arts and his interest in human expression also led him to make grotesque depictions of the human figure in the genre of caricature. Bouchardon’s masterpieces, especially those staged in public spaces, such as the Grenelle Fountain and the Equestrian Monument to Louis XV, had a critical impact on the artist’s contemporaries. In this regard, the reception and portrayal of these artworks through drawings and prints made by Gabriel de Saint-Aubin during the two decades that followed Bouchardon’s death are particularly enlightening.
P R O G R A M M E
10:00 Welcome by Thomas Gaehtgens (The Getty Research Institute)
10:05 Introductions: Anne-Lise Desmas (The J. Paul Getty Museum) and Édouard Kopp (Harvard Art Museums)
10:10 Morning Session
Moderator: Guilhem Scherf (Musée du Louvre)
• Malcolm Baker (University of California, Riverside), Some Ways of Carving out a Sculptural Career: Bouchardon, Roubiliac, Pigalle
• Anne-Lise Desmas, Bouchardon and Early Modern Sculptors in Rome
• Kristel Smentek (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Bouchardon, P.-J. Mariette, and the ‘Pure Taste’ of the Antique
• Katie Scott (The Courtauld Institute of Art), Modelling Water: Bouchardon and the Fountain at the rue de Grenelle
2:30 Afternoon Session
Moderator: Juliette Trey (Musée du Louvre)
• Monique Kornell (University of California, Los Angeles), Bouchardon’s Unusual Anatomy Book for Artists: L’anatomie nécessaire pour l’usage du dessein  in Context
• Ewa Lajer-Burcharth (Harvard University), Bouchardon’s Body
• Édouard Kopp, Bouchardon, Caricature, and the Grotesque
• Perrin Stein (The Metropolitan Museum of Art), Activating Public Space: Bouchardon through the Eyes of Saint-Aubin