CLEVELAND (January 24, 2023)—Over the past century, the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) has acquired an exceptional and diverse selection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist 19th-century French drawings that have become a cornerstone of the museum’s collection since its opening in 1916. In its newest exhibition, Nineteenth-Century French Drawings from the Cleveland Museum of Art, more than 50 featured artworks explore the history of drawing in 19th-century France and chronicle the remarkable role the medium has played at the CMA. Nineteenth-Century French Drawings from the Cleveland Museum of Art is on view through Sunday, June 11, 2023, in the James and Hanna Bartlett Prints and Drawings Gallery (gallery 101).
Drawing transformed radically in 19th-century France, expanding from a means of artistic training to an independent medium with rich potential for exploration and experimentation. A variety of materials became available to artists—such as commercially fabricated chalks, pastels and specialty papers—encouraging figures ranging from Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres to Paul Cezanne to reconsider the place of drawing within their artistic practices. A growing number of public and private exhibition venues began to display their creations, building an audience attracted by the intimacy of drawings and their unique techniques and subjects. In France and abroad, museums and individuals alike started to actively acquire these works while they were still contemporary art.
The CMA has continued to enhance and deepen its collection of 19th-century French drawings, which includes works ranging from sketches made by a young Edgar Degas during his first trip to Italy to the first drawing by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec to enter an American museum collection, as well as works by such iconic artists as Honoré Daumier, Berthe Morisot and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The numerous recently acquired works in this exhibition include a watercolor by Cezanne, a luminous colored pencil study by symbolist artist Alexandre Séon and a group of “noir” drawings—named for their use of varied black drawing media—by Henri Fantin-Latour, Albert-Charles Lebourg and Adolphe Appian, among others.
“Since the CMA’s collection of works on paper most often remains in storage, this exhibition allows visitors the unique and historic opportunity to see our most celebrated 19th-century French drawings on view together,” said Britany Salsbury, associate curator of prints and drawings. “Throughout the galleries, artworks tell the stories not only of the evolution of this medium over the course of a century but also of how Cleveland built its holdings of these internationally recognized works in the century that followed.”
A richly illustrated catalogue—the first to document this collection—accompanies the exhibition, featuring new research on each of the included works and essays by leading scholars in the field.
Principal support is provided by the Getty Foundation as part of The Paper Project initiative. Major support is provided by the Wolfgang Ratjen Foundation, Liechtenstein. Additional support is provided by the Simon Family Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.
All exhibitions at the Cleveland Museum of Art are underwritten by the CMA Fund for Exhibitions. Principal annual support is provided by Michael Frank and the late Pat Snyder. Major annual support is provided by the Womens Council of the Cleveland Museum of Art. Generous annual support is provided by an anonymous supporter, the late Dick Blum and Harriet Warm, Gary and Katy Brahler, Cynthia and Dale Brogan, Dr. Ben and Julia Brouhard, Brenda and Marshall Brown, Mr. and Mrs. Walter R. Chapman Jr., Richard and Dian Disantis, Leigh and Andy Fabens, Janice Hammond and Edward Hemmelgarn, Carl T. Jagatich, Cathy Lincoln, Eva and Rudolf Linnebach, William S. and Margaret F. Lipscomb, Bill and Joyce Litzler, Carl and Lu Anne Morrison, Tim O’Brien and Breck Platner, William J. and Katherine T. O’Neill, Henry Ott-Hansen, Michael and Cindy Resch, the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation, Margaret and Loyal Wilson, and Claudia C. Woods and David A. Osage.
The CDC updated its guidelines regarding the need to wear face coverings in public settings for protection against COVID-19. The CMA recommends but no longer requires visitors to wear a face covering inside the building.
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