Exhibition | Grand Design: 17th-Century French Drawings

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on February 11, 2022

Antoine Coypel, The Crucifixion, 1692, red and black chalk with white gouache heightening on beige paper, 41 × 58 cm
(Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 88.GB.41)

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

Grand Design: 17th-Century French Drawings
Getty Center, Los Anageles, 8 February — 1 May 2022

Curated by Emily Beeny

Presenting the Getty Museum’s collection of 17th-century French drawings in its entirety for the first time, Grand Design: 17th-Century French Drawings addresses the emergence of a distinctly French school of art and explores the role that drawing played in the process.

“Today we recognize drawings by Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain as landmark achievements of 17th-century European art,” says Timothy Potts, Maria Hummer-Tuttle and Robert Tuttle Director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “But in fact, drawing lay at the heart of all artmaking in 17th-century France, from the decoration of palaces and churches to the illustration of books. Drawing was where it began.”

Charles de la Fosse, Studies for a Ceiling Decoration with the Apotheosis of Psyche (detail), ca. 1680, pen and black ink and brush and watercolor over red chalk on paper, 26 × 36 cm (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001.47).

French art came into its own during the 17th century, often called the Grand Siècle, or Great Age, of France. This period witnessed a series of violent political upheavals at home, the first stages of colonial expansion overseas, and the rise of authoritarian absolute monarchy. This turbulent century fostered artistic activity on a scale previously unimagined. Expatriate French artists achieved fame in Rome; a Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture was founded in Paris; and vast building projects—most notably, the Palace of Versailles—employed whole generations of artists.

This exhibition includes drawings made by Jacques Callot, Simon Vouet, Nicolas Poussin, Claude Lorrain, Charles Le Brun, Hyacinthe Rigaud, and many others. These artists made drawings for many different purposes: designs for ceiling paintings, altarpieces, sculptures, and prints; landscape sketches made outdoors; and nude studies drawn in the studio.

“Drawing helped 17th-century French artists make sense of the world around them, think through compositional ideas, and prepare finished works,” explains Emily Beeny, curator of the exhibition. “Each of these sheets invites us into its author’s creative process, whether observing nature, capturing a portrait likeness, designing a print, or preparing a painting.”

Grand Design: 17th-Century French Drawings is curated by Emily Beeny, curator in charge of European paintings at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and former associate curator of drawings at the Getty Museum. This exhibition is presented concurrently with another exhibition focused on 17th-century French art: Poussin and the Dance.

The checklist is available as a PDF file here»

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