Enfilade

Exhibition | Artists as Collectors

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on May 28, 2021

From the press release for the exhibition now on view at The Getty:

Artists as Collectors
Getty Center, Los Angeles, 25 May — 12 September 2021

Curated by Casey Lee

Gerard van Nijmegen (1735–1808), Allegory of Painting and Drawing, 1801, graphite, gray and brown ink, and gray wash, 38 × 27 cm (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2008.31).

Artists were among the earliest and greatest collectors of drawings. Celebrated European painters including Edgar Degas, Joshua Reynolds, and Giorgio Vasari were passionate collectors, and their appetites for drawings by old and contemporary masters compelled them to acquire exceptional examples of draftsmanship by artists such as Delacroix, Raphael, and Rembrandt. These drawings were valued as intellectual property, powerful status symbols, and works of art in their own right. This exhibition, featuring objects from the Getty’s permanent collection, reveals how artists gathered, used, and cared for their drawings.

An artist’s ability to acquire objects depended on his or her social network and the development of a market for drawings. The first works any artist owned came from their own hand, and favorite pupils or studio assistants obtained pieces by their teachers. By the end of the 15th century, when a market for drawings began to develop, it became easier for artists to acquire artwork from their peers, thereby increasing the scope of their collections.

Drawings were kept and treasured for a variety of reasons. They were used to train students and as reference material for an artist in search of inspiration. Certain sheets were valued for sentimental reasons, while others conferred status by confirming the wealth, power, and knowledge of the collector.

“Artists were among the first to recognize and appreciate drawings’ informative and aesthetic qualities, which is why they are among the first and greatest collectors of drawings,” says Casey Lee, curator of the exhibition. “By declaring their ownership through inscriptions and personalized stamps, the collectors make it possible to reconstruct aspects of a drawing’s life and reception.”

 

 

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