Spanning some 400 years, the works show the development of various graphic techniques throughout the period, and reveal the story of the graphic arts in Europe from the Renaissance to the dawn of the 20th century.
Through the centuries Europe’s greatest artists have turned to drawing and printmaking to create aesthetic effects unrealisable in other media, and to explore a variety of subjects. Many of these artists are represented in this exhibition including; Mantegna, Barocci, Claude, Rembrandt, Watteau, Hogarth, Canaletto, Gainsborough, Goya, Constable, Ingres, Delacroix, Corot, Daumier, Millet, Burne-Jones, Manet, Cézanne, Munch and Klimt.
In recent times the Gallery has been fortunate to acquire, both through gift and donation, some significant works. In 2013 the Gallery purchased Albrecht Dürer’s enigmatic masterpiece Melencolia I 1514. This significant engraving, which provides a focal point for the Gallery’s early collection, will be on show for the first time. Also on display are a number of old master drawings of superlative quality, including works by Watteau, Fragonard and Ingres among others.
Peter Raissis, the Gallery’s curator of European prints, drawings and watercolours, has selected the works for the exhibition and written the accompanying publication. Together the exhibition and publication open a window into the history and collecting patterns of the Gallery. This is the first in a series of books on the Gallery’s collection of European graphic art. Forthcoming titles will be devoted to British watercolours 1800-1950 and European and American prints and drawings 1900-2000.
‘I hope that the exhibition will inspire admiration of early prints and drawings and enrich our visitors’ appreciation and understanding both of the technical and artistic aspects of these key works from our collection and of the human experience they convey of ages so different from our own’, said Mr Raissis.
Due to their sensitivity to light, prints and drawings are far less visible than works of art in other more robust media. When not on display, the Gallery’s study room allows access and close observation of the works-on-paper collection. This exhibition offers a rare opportunity to view a substantial number of works from the Gallery’s European graphic art collection.
European prints and drawings 1500-1900
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney
Exhibition: 30 August – 2 November 2014
For more information, visit: www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au for details.
Image: Jean-Antoine Watteau Study of three male figures 1713/14 (detail), drawing, Art Gallery of NSW