Poussin, Claude, and French Drawing in the Classical Age at The Morgan Library & Museum, through October 15, 2017

“The French refer to the seventeenth century—especially the reigns of Louis XIII (r. 1610–43) and Louis XIV (r. 1643–1715)—as the Grand Siècle, or the Great Century. During this time, France reached a peak of political power and cultural richness. Artists born in France or the adjacent duchy of Lorraine (now part of France, but independent until the eighteenth century) rose to prominence under state patronage and counted kings, cardinals, aristocrats, and popes among their benefactors. Given France’s broad cultural outlook, a period of residence in Italy for the study of antiquity and of modern art was considered a near-essential aspect of an artist’s formation. By 1648, the establishment of the Royal Academy for Painting and Sculpture centralized training and sought to create a distinctly French system.

Drawing was a critical element of artistic practice throughout the period, and this exhibition—primarily from the Morgan’s own holdings—explores French draftsmanship across the Grand Siècle. It documents the shift from mannerism to classicism but, more important, it also shows how artists engaged with both the study of the natural world and the lessons of classical art, the two key elements of seventeenth-century French art.” — Introductory Wall Text

Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra.

Claude Gellée, called Claude Lorrain (1600–1682), A Hilly Landscape with Bare Trees, 1639–41, brush and brown wash over black chalk. The Morgan Library & Museum; Purchased by Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) in 1909; III, 82b.

Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665), Death of Hippolytus, 1645, pen and brown ink and wash over black chalk. The Morgan Library & Museum; Purchased by Pierpont Morgan in 1909; I, 267.

Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra.

Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665), The Holy Family on the Steps, 1646–48, pen and brown ink and brown wash, with gray wash, over black chalk, on paper. The Morgan Library & Museum; Purchased by Pierpont Morgan in 1909; III,71.

Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665), The Holy Family on the Steps, 1648, oil on canvas. The Cleveland Museum of Art; Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 1981.

Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra.

Daniel Dumonstier (1574 – 1646), Portrait of a Gentleman of the French Court, 1628, black, red, yellow, and white chalk. The Morgan Library & Museum; Purchased as the gift of John M. Crawford, Jr.; 1956.9.

Simon Vouet (1590–1649), Portrait of Louis XIII, ca. 1632–35, black and white chalk with pastel on light brown paper. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, and Stephen A. Geiger Gift; 2012.106.

Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra.

Sébastien Bourdon (1616–1671), Group of Peasants and a Boy Drinking from a Bowl, ca. 1636, black and white chalk on light brown paper; incised for transfer. The Morgan Library & Museum; Purchased as the gift of Mrs. Charles Wrightsman; 1986.59.

Claude Gellée, called Claude Lorrain (1600–1682), Apollo Watching the Herds of Admetus, 1663, pen and brown ink and wash, heightened with white gouache, over black chalk. The Morgan Library & Museum; Purchased by Pierpont Morgan in 1909; I, 271.

Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra.

Charles Le Brun (1619–1690), A Caryatid, 1641, black chalk and gray wash; incised for transfer. The Morgan Library & Museum; Purchased as the gift of Mrs. Charles Wrightsman; 1987.6.

Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra.

Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra.

Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra.

Jacques Bellange (ca. 1575–1616), Orion Carrying Diana on His Shoulders, 1613–16, pen and brown ink and wash. The Morgan Library & Museum; Bequest of John S. Thacher; 1971.8.

Jacques Callot (1592–-1635), The Miracle of St. Mansuetus, ca. 1621, pen and brown ink and brown wash over black chalk. The Morgan Library & Museum; Purchased as the gift of Mrs. Kenneth A. Spencer; 1978.35.

“The Grand Siècle saw artistic development unlike any before it in France,” said Colin B. Bailey, director of the Morgan Library & Museum. “The visual arts, literature, music, drama, and architecture all prospered. Poussin, Claude, and French Drawing in the Classical Age  explores the extraordinary advances in the field of drawing by some of the true masters of the period, advances that provided the foundation for all French art that followed.”

This exhibition is organized by Jennifer Tonkovich, Eugene and Clare Thaw Curator in the Morgan’s Department of Drawings and Prints, with Marco Simone Bolzoni, Moore Curatorial Fellow.