Leonardo to Matisse: Master Drawings from the Robert Lehman Collection at The Met Fifth Avenue, October 4, 2017 – January 7, 2018

“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 da Vinci. Italian, Vinci 1452–1519 Amboise. A Bear Walking, ca. 1482–85. Silverpoint on light buff prepared paper; 4 1/16 x 5 1/4 in. (10.3 x 13.3 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Robert Lehman Collection, 1975

Albrecht Dürer. German, Nuremberg 1471–1528 Nuremberg. Self-portrait, Study of a Hand and a Pillow (recto); Six Studies of Pillows (verso), 1493. Pen and brown ink; 10 15/16 x 7 15/16 in. (27.8 x 20.2 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Robert Lehman Collection, 1975

Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch, Leiden 1606–1669 Amsterdam). The Last Supper, after Leonardo da Vinci, 1634–35. Red chalk; 14 1/4 x 18 11/16 in. (36.2 x 47.5 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Robert Lehman Collection, 1975

Antoine Watteau. French, Valenciennes 1684–1721 Nogent-sur-Marne. Seated Woman, 1716–17. Black, red and white chalk; 9 7/16 x 5 7/16 in. (24 x 13.8 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Robert Lehman Collection, 1975

Goya (Francisco de Goya y Lucientes) (Spanish, Fuendetodos 1746–1828 Bordeaux). Self-Portrait in a Cocked Hat, ca. 1790. Pen and brown (iron gall?) ink on paper; 3 7/8 x 3 7/16 in. (9.8 x 8.8 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Robert Lehman Collection, 1975

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. French, Montauban 1780–1867 Paris. Study for “Raphael and the Fornarina”(?), ca. 1814(?). Graphite on white wove paper; 10 x 7 3/4 in. (25.4 x 19.7 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Robert Lehman Collection, 1975

Vincent van Gogh. Dutch, Zundert 1853–1890 Auvers-sur-Oise. Road in Etten, 1881. Chalk, pencil, pastel, watercolor. Underdrawing in pen and brown ink. 15 1/2 x 22 3/4 in. (39.4 x 57.8 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Robert Lehman Collection, 1975

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.