Exhibition | Sketching among the Ruins

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on January 28, 2023

Landscape of a circular wall surrounding arched ruins with mountains and blue sky in background and lone figure in foreground.

Louise-Joséphine Sarazin de Belmont, The Roman Theater, Taormina, 1825, oil on paper, mounted on board, 42 × 58 cm
(New York: Thaw Collection, jointly owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Morgan Library & Museum, 2009.400:102)

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Now on view at The Morgan:

Sketching among the Ruins
The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, 25 October 2022 — 12 November 2023

By the mid-eighteenth century, the practice of sketching outdoors with oil paint had become popular among landscape artists. Furthermore, a study trip through Europe, often centered on a stay in Italy, had evolved as a customary part of artists’ training. Italy’s cities and countryside, filled with remnants of ancient monuments, offered artists stimulating subject matter, and the portability of oil sketching facilitated the firsthand study of ruins and their surroundings. While some painters carefully recorded these structures’ textures and colors, as well as how light fell upon them, others invented scenes by reimagining remains of the past or by envisioning the future deterioration of the present. Whether real or fictional, ruins and their surrounding landscape offered poignant juxtapositions—at once testimonies to the majesty of human achievement and to the inevitable triumph of time over our endeavors.

Sketching among the Ruins highlights oil sketches given jointly to the Morgan and the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Eugene V. Thaw, a trustee of both institutions.

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Thaw died in January of 2018 at the age 90. For an overview of his wide-ranging career as a dealer and collector, see Steven M. L. Aronson, “Celebrating Eugene Thaw’s Legacy,” Architectural Digest Pro (25 November 2018).

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