BY BLAIR LEAKE
January is the month of short days, little light and grim weather. While most people spend this month hibernating, in eager anticipation of Spring. There is, nevertheless, one event in January which promises to shake weather-intrepid art connoisseurs from their Winter blues. The fourth annual Master Drawings Week (January 23rd-30th) is a showcase of 22 dealers exhibiting works in galleries on the Upper East Side. Cara Dufour Denison, Curator Emerita at The Morgan Library & Museum, sums up its importance: “Our small world of connoisseurs, collectors, and curators of drawings and print cabinets become the focus of attention for one week in January every year, when dealers from New York and abroad come here so that we who love drawings can survey nearly everything on the market at a given time.” Given its approaching date, we at OMNP would like to call attention to some of the noteworthy dealer openings, auction events and museum exhibitions that comprise Master Drawings Week.
Jean-Luc Baroni is showing rare and beautiful works like a red chalk drawing by Francesco Salviati while Didier Aaron is presenting 50 eighteenth-century French drawings. David Tunick, Inc. is exhibiting 60 drawings acquired from private American and European estates and collections, including outstanding examples such as a dry brush drawing by Giovanni Bendetto Castiglione, a large adoration scene in black chalk by Abraham Bloemaert and a museum-worthy early Netherlandish drawing by the circle of Roger Van der Weyden.
I was particularly excited to see these delicate drawings, as the Dutch and Netherlandish works from galleries and auction houses have been sparse. Also of note at David Tunick, is a large format charcoal and ink drawing, depicting the fall of giants by from the circle of Henry Fuseli. Capturing an exhilarating moment of destruction, this drawing conveys the dark moody atmosphere through rich brown tones while highly shaded bodies indicate the tumbling action of falling figures.
This year, Jill Newhouse is featuring 40 works from the collection of Curtis Baer, among them Dutch artist Leonaert Bramer’s (1596-1674) animated drawing of men gathered behind a balustrade. Gallery owner and specialist Jill Newhouse explains that Bramer’s drawing was a study for a ceiling commission, an interpretation supported by the unusually compressed composition of tightly over-lapping bodies. Also in the Baer Collection is a small eighteenth-century French work called Study of Clouds by the Master of the Blue Paper Drawings. The artist’s name does justice to this work’s compelling use of white washes, which heighten the effects on the blue paper. This drawing was previously attributed to Claude Lorrain.
This week-long celebration of drawing would not be complete without the buzz of works new to the market, offered at two major auction houses, Sotheby’s and Christie’s. Sotheby’s Old Master Drawings Sale (January 27th) is offering excellent examples of Italian drawings, including 20 decorative designs by master goldsmith Jacopo Strada (circa 1515-88) for elaborate precious metal objects (lots 40-59), such as a Baroque design for a spoon and a candlestand embellished with bacchanalian motifs (lot #44). Also of note from the Sotheby’s sale, is an impressive compositional drawing in pen and brown ink by Frederico Zuccaro for the painting, The Submission of the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa to Pope Alexander II in the Sala del Gran Consiglio in the Palazzo Ducale (lot 17). Included in the Old Master & 19th Century Paintings, Drawings & Watercolors sale at Christie’s [January 27th] is Jacopo Ligozzi’s The Fall of Preveza, a highly finished work in pen and brown ink heightened with gold (lot #107).
Among the various events not to be missed during Master Drawings Week are two highly anticipated drawings exhibitions at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Morgan Library. The Drawings of Bronzino, opening January 20th at The Met, is the first monographic exhibition dedicated to the leading Italian Mannerist artist, Agnolo Bronzino (1503-1572), who worked foremost in Florence. As a successful painter, draftsman, academician, and amusing poet, Bronzino found favor as the court artist for Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici. The exhibition presents nearly all the known drawings by, or attributed to Bronzino, and will consist of 60 drawings from European and American private collections, many of which have never been on view publically.
For a more intimate look at Italian drawings, head over to The Morgan for the Rome After Raphael exhibition which opens January 22nd. The exhibition at The Morgan will feature around 80 drawings from the museum’s collection of Italian works from 1500-1600 and will be centered around Roman artists and Mannerist trends of the Renaissance period as exemplified in the work of artists from Raphael to Annibale Carracci. Highlights from the Rome After Raphael exhibition include a dramatic metalpoint drawing Male Figure Symbolizing an Earthquake by Raphael and beautiful red chalk drawing of Diogenes by Parmigianino.
A select roundup of works on view:
For full details of the Master Drawings events and openings, visit www.masterdrawingsnewyork.com .