“Featuring highlights of European drawing from the Robert Lehman Collection, this exhibition presents works by preeminent masters from the Renaissance to the modern age, including Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt, Georges Seurat, and Henri Matisse. The selection reflects significant developments in the medium between the fifteenth and twentieth centuries, as styles, techniques, and genres evolved, evoking illuminating comparisons across regions and eras. From portraits, figure studies, and landscapes to mythological and biblical narratives, the drawings represent a dynamic array of sacred and secular subjects in media ranging from metalpoint, pen and ink, and chalk to graphite, pastel, and charcoal.
The role of drawing as the foundation of all the visual arts is illustrated by numerous preparatory studies for painting, sculpture, tapestry, engraving, and stained glass, including some very rare examples. Elucidating the varying stages of the design process, the works on view include rapid preliminary sketches, detailed studies of motifs, expansive compositional designs, and finished drawings intended for patrons. Beginning in the Renaissance, drawing was increasingly valued as an autonomous art form and a means of creative expression. Two remarkable examples that provide a glimpse into the exploratory process of Renaissance masters are Leonardo’s Study of a Bear, which epitomizes his keen observation of the natural world, and Dürer’s iconic Self-Portrait, an embodiment of his awakening artistic self-consciousness.
The exhibition is the first to present the full range of Robert Lehman’s vast and distinguished drawings collection (numbering more than seven hundred sheets) and the first to explore his significant activity as a drawings collector from the 1920s to the 1960s.” — Introductory Wall Text
Leonardo to Matisse is organized by Dita Amory, Curator in Charge, and Alison Nogueira, Associate Curator, both of the Robert Lehman Collection at The Met. The exhibition is made possible by the Robert Lehman Foundation.
Images courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art.