New Book | The Print Before Photography

Posted in books by Editor on March 26, 2017

From Museum Bookstore:

Anthony Griffiths, The Print Before Photography: An Introduction to European Printmaking, 1550–1820 (London: The British Museum, 2016), 560 pages, ISBN: 978  07141  26951, $75.

A landmark publication—beautifully illustrated with over 300 prints from the British Museum’s renowned collection—The Print Before Photography traces the history of printmaking from its earliest days until the arrival of photography.

Copperplate printmaking, developed alongside Gutenberg’s invention of moveable type, was a huge business employing thousands of people, and dominating image production for nearly four centuries across the whole of Europe. Its techniques and influence remained very stable until the nineteenth century, when this world was displaced by new technologies, of which photography was by far the most important. The Print Before Photography examines the unrivaled importance of printmaking in its golden age, illustrated through the British Museum’s outstanding collection of prints. This unique and significant book is destined to be a leading reference in print scholarship, and will be of interest to anyone with an interest in this era of art history.

Between 1991 and 2010, Antony Griffiths was deputy keeper, then keeper, of Prints and Drawings at The British Museum. In 1984 he co-founded the journal Print Quarterly. He was appointed a fellow of the British Academy in 2000.

New Book | The Sovereign Artist: Charles Le Brun

Posted in books by Editor on March 25, 2017

From Paul Holberton:

Wolf Burchard, The Sovereign Artist: Charles Le Brun and the Image of Louis XIV (London: Paul Holberton Publishing, 2017), 288 pages, ISBN: 978  19113  00052, £40.

The first monograph to examine the wide artistic production of Louis XIV’s most prolific and powerful artist, Charles Le Brun (1619–1690), illustrating not only his paintings but the magnificence of the interiors and decorative works of art produced according to his designs. Revealing Le Brun’s extraordinary versatility and exploring his work at the Academy, the Gobelins and Savonnerie manufactories, and the royal building sites of the Louvre and Versailles,  it is also the first book to explore in depth his artistic relationship to the Sun King.

In his joint capacities of Premier peintre du roi, director of the Gobelins manufactory and rector of the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture, Le Brun exercised a previously unprecedented influence on the production of the visual arts—so much so that some scholars have repeatedly described him as ‘dictator’ of the arts in France. The Sovereign Artist explores how Le Brun operated in his diverse fields of activities, linking and juxtaposing his portraiture, history painting and pictorial theory with his designs for architecture, tapestries, carpets and furniture. It argues that Le Brun sought to create a repeatable and easily recognizable visual language associated with Louis XIV, in order to translate the king’s political claims for absolute power into a visual form. How he did this is discussed through a series of individual case studies ranging from Le Brun’s lost equestrian portrait of Louis XIV, and his involvement in the Querelle du coloris at the Académie, to his scheme for 93 Savonnerie carpets for the Grande Galerie at the Louvre, his Histoire du roy tapestry series, his decoration of the now destroyed Escalier des Ambassadeurs at Versailles.

One key theme is the relation between the unity of the visual arts, to which Le Brun aspired, and the strong hierarchical distinctions he made between the liberal arts and the mechanical crafts: while his lectures at the Académie advocated a visual and conceptual unity in painting and architecture, they were also a means by which he attempted to secure the newly gained status of painting as a liberal art, and therefore to distinguish it from the mechanical crafts which he oversaw the production of at the Gobelins manufactories. His artistic and architectural aspirations were comparable to those of his Roman contemporary Gianlorenzo Bernini, summoned to Paris in 1665 to design the Louvre’s East façade and to create a portrait bust of Louis XIV. Bernini’s failure to convince the king and Colbert of his architectural scheme offered new opportunities for Le Brun and his French contemporaries to prove themselves capable of solving the architectural problems of the Louvre and to transform it into a palace appropriate “to the grandeur and the magnificence of the prince who [was] to inhabit it” (Jean-Baptiste Colbert to Nicolas Poussin in 1664). The comparison between Le Brun and Bernini, made in the book, not only illustrates how France sought artistic supremacy over Italy during the second half of the 17th century, but further helps to demonstrate how Le Brun himself wanted to be perceived: beyond acting as a translator of the king’s artistic ambition, the artist appears to have sought his own sovereign authority over the visual arts.

Wolf Burchard is an art and architectural historian. He is the National Trust’s Furniture Research Curator and was formerly Curatorial Assistant at the Royal Collection Trust.

Exhibition | The Tweeddales: Power, Politics and Portraits

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on March 25, 2017

Attributed to Sir John Baptiste de Medina, The Family of John Hay, 1st Marquess Tweeddale, Lord High Chancellor of Scotland, ca. 1695, oil on canvas, 141 × 184 cm (Scottish National Portrait Gallery, purchased with the aid of the Art Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund 1999).

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

Now on view at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery:

The Tweeddales: Power, Politics and Portraits
Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, 23 April 2016 — 28 May 2017

Wealthy, influential, and politically savvy the Tweeddale family was at the heart of Scottish society in the second half of the seventeenth century. At the head of the family was John Hay (1626–1697), 2nd Earl and later 1st Marquess of Tweeddale. His marriage to Lady Jean Scott (1629–1688), second daughter of the Borders landowner Walter Scott, 1st Earl of Buccleuch, brought him wealth, opportunity, and a large family—the couple had several children. Members of the Tweeddale dynasty married into some of the noblest families in Scotland and England.

While several members of the Tweeddale family are acknowledged for their contribution to politics, the military, and for their strategic marriage matches, their role as patrons of the arts and architecture is often overlooked. The family were enthusiastic art collectors who commissioned portraits and landscapes by established and little-known artists, particularly those of Dutch, Flemish, and German origin including Sir Anthony van Dyck, Sir Peter Lely, Gerard Soest, and Sir John Baptiste de Medina. Paintings by each these artists feature in the exhibition. The highlight of the exhibition is the fascinating group portrait of the Marquess and his family, attributed to the Flemish artist Sir John Baptiste de Medina, which was painted around 1695.

Conference | Medals and Tokens in Europe

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on March 22, 2017

From H-ArtHist:

Art du puissant, objet multiple: Médailles et jetons en
Europe, de la Renaissance à la Première Guerre mondiale

Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, Paris, 30 March — 1 April 2017

J E U D I ,  3 0  M A R S  2 0 1 7

13.00  Accueil

13.30  Portrait du Puissant
Présidence de séance: Victor Hundsbuckler (Monnaie de Paris)
• Ilaria Bernocchi (University of Cambridge), Myth-making of a Renaissance Ruler: Andrea Doria as Neptune in Medals, Plaquettes, and the Allegorical Portrait by Angola Bronzino
• Aurore Chéry (LARHRA/CNRS), Déclin et renouveau protéiforme des médailles sous Louis XV et Louis XVI
• Katia Schaal (Université de Poitiers / Ecole du Louvre / INHA), Vus de profil: genèse des portraits de présidents de la République française, de Thiers à Fallières

15.30  Pause

16.00  Concevoir, Produire
Présidence de séance: Lucia Simonato (Scuola Normale di Pisa)
• James Fishburne (Getty Research Institute), Coins, Medals, and the Convergence of Two Genres: Numismatics in High Renaissance Rome
• Giulia Zaccariotto (Scuola Normale di Pisa), Vittore Gambello called Camelio: Medallist and Die Engraver between Venice and Rome
• Andrea Mayr (Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien), On the role of the k.k. Kammermedailleur under Emperor Ferdinand I and his significance and function for the medal production at the Imperial Mint in Vienna

17h30  Pause

18.00  Collections
Présidence de séance: Chantal Georgel (INHA)
• Ludovic Jouvet (Université de Bourgogne / INHA), Son histoire à portée de main: la cassette personnelle de Louis XIV
• Inès Villela-Petit (BnF), Les médailles de la collection Seymour de Ricci

V E N D R E D I ,  3 1  M A R S  2 0 1 7

9.00  Accueil

9.30  Institutions
Présidence de séance: François Ploton-Nicollet (Ecole nationale des Chartes)
• Sabrina Valin (Université Paris Nanterre), L’institutionnalisation progressive des projets de jetons sous les règnes de Louis XIII et de Louis XIV, 1610–61
• Jacques Meissonnier (conservateur honoraire du patrimoine), Les jetons des puissants états de Bourgogne et de Languedoc
• Béatrice Coullaré (Monnaie de Paris), Les médailles de visites de chefs d’Etat. Deux cents ans d’histoire diplomatique et artistique à la Monnaie de Paris

11.00  Pause

11.30  Transferts de modèles
Présidence de séance: Inès Villela-Petit (Bibliothèque nationale de France)
• Thodoris Koutsogiannis (Parlement hellénique), The Ruler of Constantinople on Italian Renaissance Medals: John VII Palaeologus and Mehmed the Conqueror in European Visual Culture
• Emily Pearce Seigerman (National Museum of American History), République dans le vrai style: How French Medalic Artistry Became the Emblem of Trans-Atlantic Change
• Charles Dujour Bosquet (Université de Bordeaux 3-Montaigne), La présence française et la médaillistique au Chili au tournant du XXe siècle

13.00  Déjeuner

14.30  L’histoire en marche
Présidence de séance: Marc Bompaire (Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes)
• Paulina Taradaj (Musée National, Cracovie), What do John Sobieski, Augustus II of the House of Wettin and Frederick William II of Prussia Have in Common Concerning Medals?
• Thomas Cocano (SAPRAT/EPHE), La construction d’une image nationale et politique au travers de la
production de médailles durant le règne d’Anne, 1702–14
• Anna Fabiankowitsch (Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien), On Her Majesty’s Service: Protagonists of commissioning and creation as part of the medal production in the Viennese Imperial Mint under Empress Maria Theresa

16.00  Pause

16.30  Présidence de séance: Edouard Papet (Musée d’Orsay)
• Catherine Bregianni (Académie héllénique des Sciences), David d’Angers et la prosopographie du libéralisme: les médailles et médaillons sur la Révolution Grecque
• Nikoleta Tzani (Ville de Volos, Section de l’Education et de la Culture), Quelques médailles de la cour royale grecque des années 1900 à la fin de la Grande Guerre

S A M E D I ,  1  A V R I L  2 0 1 7

9.00  Accueil

9.30  Pouvoirs de l’objet
Présidence de séance : Felicity Bodenstein (Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac)
• Jean-François Dubos (Service historique de la Défense), De la médaille à la récompense. Bélière et « rurbanisation », ou le mérite rendu visible
• Alain Weil (Expert numismate), Quand le puissant c’est le peuple : naissance et évolution de la médaille populaire en France
• Pierre-Christian Guiollard (Université de Mulhouse-Colmar), Les « taillettes » ou « jetons de lampisterie » des mines : fonction utilitaire et symbolique
• Cécilie Champy (Musée du Petit Palais), La médaille française et la Première Guerre mondiale : de la propagande à la douleur universelle
• Holly Crawford (PhD), Anxious Object : Enemy Alien Medals from British WW I Internment Camps


Exhibition | The Land without Music

Posted in exhibitions by Caitlin Smits on March 21, 2017

From the Lewis Walpole Library

The Land without Music: Satirizing Song in Eighteenth-Century England
The Lewis Walpole Library, Farmington, CT, 1 March — 29 September 2017

Curated by Amy Dunagin

Copy after James Gillray, A Little Music, or, The Delights of Harmony, etching and stipple with hand coloring; published 1818 by John Miller and W. Blackwood (Lewis Walpole Library, 810.00.00.72).

Music pervaded public and private spaces in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England; yet, in 1904, German critic Oscar Adolf Hermann Schmitz, heightening long-standing aspersions, dismissed England as a “land without music.” This unflattering epithet pointed to England’s meager contributions to the western musical canon during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries—no English Gluck, Mozart, or Verdi; no English operatic or symphonic tradition that could rival those that flourished on the continent. The English, critics like Schmitz suggested, were importers rather than producers—tasteless consumers and dilettantes rather than discerning, proficient practitioners. This view did not originate with continental nationalists; in the eighteenth century the English often presented themselves as uniquely unmusical in print and in visual satire. At once self-effacing and boastful, this representation asserted a national character too sensible, too chaste, too sober to permit the excesses of musical genius. Bringing together satirical prints and documents pertaining to English music makers and listeners, this exhibition explores English attitudes toward music as lascivious, feminine, foreign, frivolous, and distinctly un-English.

Curated by Amy Dunagin, Postdoctoral Associate, European Studies Council, Yale University, and Managing Editor, Eighteenth-Century Studies

The exhibition brochure, which includes a full checklist, is available as a PDF file here»




New Book | After the Fire: London Churches

Posted in books by Editor on March 21, 2017

From Pimpernel Press:

Angelo Hornak, After the Fire: London Churches in the Age of Wren, Hooke, Hawksmoor, and Gibbs (London: Pimpernel Press, 2016), 384 pages, ISBN: 978  191025  8088384, £50.

“London was but is no more!” In these words diarist John Evelyn summed up the destruction wrought by the Great Fire that swept through the City of London in 1666. The losses included St Paul’s Cathedral and eight-seven parish churches, as well as at least thirteen thousand houses.

In After the Fire, celebrated photographer and architectural historian Angelo Hornak explores, with the help of his own stunning photographs, the churches built in London during the sixty years that followed the Great Fire, as London rose from the ashes, more beautiful—and far more spectacular—than ever before. The catastrophe offered a unique opportunity to Christopher Wren and his colleagues—including Robert Hooke and Nicholas Hawksmoor—who, over the next forty years, rebuilt St Paul’s and fifty-one other London churches in a dramatic new style inspired by the European Baroque.

Forty-five years after the Fire, the Fifty New Churches Act of 1711 gave Nicholas Hawksmoor the scope to build breathtaking (and controversial) new churches including St Anne’s Limehouse, Christ Church Spitalfields and St George’s Bloomsbury. By the 1720s the pendulum was swinging away from the Baroque of Wren and Hawksmoor, and it was James Gibbs’ more restrained St Martin-in the-Fields that was to provide the prototype for churches throughout the English-speaking world—especially in North America—for the next hundred years.

Angelo Hornak is the author of Balloon over Britain (1991) and London from the Thames (1999) and has provided the photographs for many books, including histories of St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey and the cathedrals of Canterbury, Winchester, Wells, Exeter, and Ely. He lives in London and Norfolk.


Auction Results | Givaudan Collection at Piguet

Posted in Art Market by Editor on March 21, 2017

Press release, via Art Daily:

Givaudan Collection
Piguet Auction House, Geneva, 15 March 2017

Lot 794: Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Man Pointing to a Skull, red chalk.

The prices for the Givaudan Collection soared this week at Piguet Auction House in Geneva. A red chalk drawing by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806) sold for six times its low estimate, fetching CHF 267,500, the highest price seen at auction for the last decade (lot 794 estimated at CHF 40,000–60,000). This result is the third best price ever achieved for a red chalk drawing by Fragonard, the first and second being for works sold at Sotheby’s before the economic downturn of 2008 (one fetching €391,063 in 2007 and the other €286,534 in 1998). Another star lot from this collection, the spectacular pair of Louis XV Meissen porcelain candelabras, sold for CHF 158,000 at five times its low estimate (lot 586 estimated at CHF 30,000–50,000). The paintings, furniture, silver, and works of art from the collection totalled 55 lots altogether and fetched over one million Swiss francs (CHF 1,095,000).

The Givaudan Collection was part of the Spring Sale at Piguet Auction House, which finished Thursday evening with an end result of CHF 3.9 million. The Jewellery and Watches sale fetched CHF 1.5 million alone. The Wine and Spirits sale saw an almost clear round selling 92% of lots auctioned. Around 500 lots over the four days of auctions were sold at less than CHF 300, providing many an opportunity for a little indulgence at a low price.

Collectors and enthusiasts alike went into battle in the saleroom and over the telephones to be a successful bidder on pieces from this important collection from Xavier and Leon Givaudan’s estate. Having settled in Geneva over a century ago, the Givaudan brothers made their fortune in the production of synthetic perfumes, soaps, and chemicals. Consulting only the most renowned Parisian dealers and galleries, their collection began to take shape at the beginning of the 20th century. Furthermore, thanks to the research carried out by Piguet Auction House specialists, certain pieces were traced all the way back to their 18th-century origins.

French and American collectors were the most forthcoming in their bidding on the drawings and paintings while the Swiss and German collectors went to battle over the bronzes and works of art. Two clients in particular entered a bidding war over the telephones which saw a red chalk drawing by Jean-Honoré Fragonard reach CHF 267,500. The red chalk drawing which includes a skull is annotated in French “he has been what I am: what he is I will be soon.” Discovered by Bernard Piguet in the previous owner’s shoe cupboard, this red chalk drawing has now become the third most expensive work of its kind by the artist in the world. First and second place are held by drawings sold at Sotheby’s before the economic downturn of 2008 (red chalk drawing sold for €391,063 in 2007 and another for €286,534 in 1998).

Lot 793: Louis Léopold Boilly, Conjugal Tenderness.

Just minutes later, two other red chalk drawings by Hubert Robert (1733–1808) fetched CHF 82,700 and 94,800. Their provenance had been traced uninterruptedly from the present owner right back to the artist himself (lots 803 and 804 each estimated at CHF 15,000–20,000). The married couple sharing an intimate moment in La tendresse conjugale (Conjugal Tenderness) by Louis Léopold Boilly (1761–1845) moved one client to bid CHF 121,600 by telephone before finally becoming its next owner (lot 793 estimated at CHF 60,000–80,000).

During Wednesday afternoon’s auction, the Louis XV candelabras took centre stage. Veritable works of art in themselves, these important Meissen porcelain figures after a model by J.J. Kändler are set in ornate ormolu mounts (ca. 1740). Selling at five times their low estimate, these finely crafted candelabras fetched CHF 158,000 (lot 586 CHF 30,000–50,000).

Exhibition | Jane Austen by the Sea

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on March 20, 2017
William Heath, Military Dandies or Heroes of 1818, published by M. Cleary.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

Opening this summer in Brighton:

Jane Austen by the Sea
Royal Pavilion, Brighton, 17 June 2017 — 8 January 2018

Curated by Alexandra Loske

A new display at the Royal Pavilion will explore Jane Austen’s relationship with coastal towns and life in Brighton during her time, to mark the bicentenary of her death. The display will reassess Austen’s relationship with the town in the light of a long-term misunderstanding, arising from a hand-written letter of 8 January 1799. Curator Dr Alexandra Loske said, “For many years, Austen has been quoted as having written: ‘I assure you that I dread the idea of going to Brighton as much as you can do..’, but her sentence actually referred to Bookham, a village in Surrey, rather than Brighton. We now know that Austen may not have felt as negatively about the town as has been thought.”

Jane Austen by the Sea will look at the seaside context of Austen’s plots and paint a picture of the leading resort of Brighton in the early 1800s, when it was a fashionable ‘watering place’ featured in novels like Pride and Prejudice. George IV, who created the Royal Pavilion and spent long periods living there when he was Prince Regent, was a high-profile fan of Austen’s—and although she seemed not to approve of his lifestyle she was encouraged to dedicate Emma to him in 1815.

Highlights include
• The King’s personal, specially-bound copy of Emma—on display at the Royal Pavilion for the first time (generously lent by Her Majesty The Queen from the Royal Collection)
• A mourning brooch containing a lock of Jane Austen’s hair
• The manuscript of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel, Sanditon, set in a seaside town in Sussex
• Examples of Regency costume and accessories, including a wedding dress that has never been on show before and a dress in the style of the ‘Brighton Walking Dress’ featured in a London fashion magazine in 1817
• Letters from Jane Austen to the Prince Regent’s librarian, James Stanier Clarke
• One of Jane Austen’s music books
• Prints, paintings, and caricatures of the resorts and fashions popular with seaside visitors
• Rare images of Brighton as it looked in Jane Austen’s lifetime

Jane Austen by the Sea will form part of our Regency Season in 2017, which will also include the exhibition Constable and Brighton and the display Visions of the Royal Pavilion Estate (both at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery).


Exhibition | Visions of the Royal Pavilion Estate

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on March 20, 2017

Press release for the exhibition:

Visions of the Royal Pavilion Estate
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, 14 March — 3 September 2017

Curated by Alexandra Loske

Colin Jones, Digital model of the Royal Pavilion Estate as it is believed to have looked in 1832, with lost servants’ dormitory in the foreground.

A new display at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery will showcase rarely-seen views of the Royal Pavilion Estate dating back to the 1760s, as well as cutting-edge digital reconstructions of how it might have looked. According to curator Dr Alexandra Loske,“This display will survey the Royal Pavilion and its estate as it was and might have been, featuring rarely-seen views alongside discarded designs and recent digital re-creations. It will give visitors an opportunity to see unfamiliar, unusual and lost images, sourced almost exclusively from the city’s own archives and collections.”

Illustrations from the earliest printed books about the estate will sit beside unrealised designs, early municipal maps, and 20th-century plans and images. Highlights include
• Images of the Estate before the Royal Pavilion was built, and early designs commissioned by the Prince Regent by Henry Holland (1786, Marine Pavilion).
• Unrealised designs by Humphry Repton (published 1808), who George, as Prince of Wales, appointed to apply his romantic style to the Marine Pavilion and its grounds. When his beautiful, hand-produced ‘Red Book’ of designs failed to win him a commission, he had the book published for commercial sale, with fewer than 250 copies thought to have been printed. Delicate ‘overlays’ pasted onto the images provided before-and-after perspectives, with Repton’s ambitious proposals including a glass corridor around the entire East Lawn, an aviary, a pheasantry, a water feature and a clearer view of the sea.
• Lost designs and aquatints giving a lively impression of the Royal Pavilion Estate in the 18th and 19th century, sourced from the city’s collection and early popular guide books.
• Depictions of fashionable Georgian society in and around the Estate, in rare watercolours, prints and drawings from the city’s collection.
• 1830s drawings by Joseph Henry Good, who was commissioned by William IV to survey the Royal Pavilion Estate and drew up around 200 architectural plans. Detailed plans of now-lost servants’ quarters and the area around the South Gate will give a new perspective on everyday life for staff on the estate.
• Detailed digital 3D images of lost areas and structures of the Royal Pavilion Estate by RPM volunteer Colin Jones, largely based on the Good plans (will also be available online).
• Photography of the Estate’s use in the 20th century, including images from World War II and never-before-seen inter-war designs for the Royal Pavilion Garden.
• Real and imagined views of the Estate in popular culture, including illustrations and cover designs for books like Malcolm Saville’s children’s adventure story The Long Passage (1954) and Georgette Heyer’s popular novel Regency Buck (1935).

Alexandra Loske has sourced almost all the display’s inclusions from the city of Brighton & Hove’s own archives and collections. She said, “We’re keen to really make use of the city’s incredible collections and keep making new items available for the public to see.”

The display will accompany RPM’s project to digitise Humphry Repton’s Designs for the Pavilion at Brighton (1808) and John Nash’s The Royal Pavilion at Brighton (1826) and to publish the books online. It also comes as RPM works with Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival and Brighton & Hove City Council to realise a future vision for the Royal Pavilion Estate, starting with a major refurbishment of Brighton Dome’s Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre. Visions of the Royal Pavilion Estate will form part of Royal Pavilion & Museums’ Regency Summer season in 2017, which will also include Jane Austen by the Sea at the Royal Pavilion and Constable and Brighton at Brighton Museum.


Exhibition | The Woodner Collections: Master Drawings

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on March 19, 2017

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).

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

From the press release (10 January 2017) for the exhibition:

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.

Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Avenue of Cypresses at Villa d’Este, 1760/65, pen and ink with wash over chalk counterproof (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, Gift of Dian Woodner, 2013).

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.

Henry Fuseli, Satan Defying the Powers of Heaven, late 1790s, graphite, black chalk, and gray wash (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, purchased as the Gift of Andrea Woodner 2015.10.1.b).

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.








%d bloggers like this: