New Show Chronicles Evolution of French Master Drawings
Storied Past: Four Centuries of French Drawings from the
Blanton Museum of Art
July 3–September 22, 2013
Stanford, Calif. — Aspiring painters in 17th- and 18th-century France dreamed of studying at Paris’s Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture (Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture), one of the leading cultural institutions of the time. Instructors at the Académie emphasized the importance of life drawing, because mastery of the human figure was a vital skill for the successful painter. The Cantor Arts Center presents a selection of important drawings from the Renaissance and the 17th and18th centuries, when the influence of the Académie was at its peak, as well as some exemplary non-academic works from the 19th century, in “Storied Past: Four Centuries of French Drawings from the Blanton Museum of Art.” The show runs July 3 through September 22.
The Blanton, located at the University of Texas at Austin, organized the exhibition of 55 drawings primarily from its Suida-Manning collection. “Storied Past” chronicles the development of drawing in France from 1500 to 1900, a period of rapid innovation, tumultuous social revolutions and striking changes in artistic styles. Specifically, the exhibition explores the evolution of narrative subjects favored by the French tradition, as well as artists’ changing engagement with materials and techniques.
Strongly represented are 17th- and 18th-century drawings, which range from gestural sketches to more finished compositions. These drawings were not only the products of the Académie’s life-drawing classes, but also its lectures on religious, classical and mythological subject matter. The exhibition also highlights 19th- and early 20th-century works by draftsmen who reacted against the academic tradition. These artists deliberately took a more realist approach in their visual style and choice of subjects, and chose to render scenes of everyday life so as to communicate the social, economic, and political changes that were transforming modern France.
Showcased are drawings by famously talented draftsmen—among them Nicolas Lancret (1690–1743), François Boucher (1703–1770), Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725–1805), Théodore Rousseau (1812–1867) and Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen (1859–1923). Apart from exploring the expressive and technical range of French drawing, the exhibition presents new research by curators and conservators about individual works’ histories, issues of connoisseurship and sheds light on drawing as an intellectual process.
Cantor Curator Elizabeth Kathleen Mitchell speaks about the drawings on view in “Storied Past” on Thursday, July 18 at 5:30 p.m. In addition, an installation of French works on paper from the Cantor’s collection, selected by Mitchell, complements “Storied Past.” The Cantor also presents four other exhibitions of French art this summer, from 16th-century representations of Fontainebleau to 19th- and 20th-century prints by Edouard Manet (1832–1883), Odilon Redon (1840–1916) and Henri Matisse (1869–1954).
Support for “Storied Past: Four Centuries of French Drawings from the Blanton Museum of Art” is provided by United Airlines and the Still Water Foundation. Presentation of this exhibition at the Cantor Arts Center is made possible by the Burton and Deedee McMurtry Fund, the Clumeck Fund and Cantor Arts Center Members.
Beginning on Saturday, July 6, docents offer free tours of the exhibition Thursdays at 12:15 and Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Admission to the Cantor Arts Center is free. The Cantor is open Wednesday–Sunday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m., Thursday until 8 p.m. and is located on the Stanford campus, off Palm Drive at Museum Way. Parking is free on weekends and after 4 p.m. weekdays. Information: 650-723-4177, museum.stanford.edu
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Notes to editors:
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About the Cantor Arts Center
Take a journey around the world: from Africa to the Americas to Asia, from classical to contemporary. There is so much to discover at the Cantor. With 24 galleries plus sculpture gardens, collections that span 5,000 years, a world-famous Rodin collection, changing exhibitions, frequent tours and free programs, there is something for everyone at the Cantor. And admission is free for everyone.
The Cantor Arts Center presents the only West Coast viewing for the show. Other venues:
• The Frick in Pittsburg, February–April 2011
• The Blanton, September–December 2011
• The Grey Art Gallery at NYU, April–July 2012
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog with essays by Cheryl Snay, curator of European art, Snite Museum of Art; Jonathan Bober, curator and head of the department of old master prints, National Gallery of Art; and Kenneth Grant, paper conservator, Harry Ransom Center. The catalog is co-published by Hudson Hills Press and The Blanton.
About the Suida-Manning Collection
This collection was assembled over two generations by William Suida and Robert and Bertina Suida-Manning, all influential art historians. It includes 700 works by Poussin, Veronese, Rubens, Tiepolo, Boucher, Correggio and other 14th- to 18th-century Italian, French and German artists. The collection is a partial gift to the Blanton Museum by Kurt and Alessandra Manning Dolnier.
Cantor’s Special Exhibitions of French Art This Season
• “A Royal Renaissance: School of Fontainebleau Prints from the Kirk Edward Long Collection,” March 27–July 14; the 16th-century grandeur of this royal palace illustrated through 37 engravings and etchings
• “Manet and the Graphic Arts in France, 1860–1880,” June 12–November 17; prints, drawings, and photographs from the decades before and after the Paris Commune of 1871
• “Inspired by Temptation: Odilon Redon and Saint Anthony,” July 3–October 20; a rare look at this artist’s response to Flaubert's 1874 poem The Temptation of Saint Anthony
• “Storied Past: Four Centuries of French Drawings from the Blanton Museum of Art,” July 3–September 22; 55 old master drawings in their only West Coast viewing
• “Drawn to the Body: French Figure Drawings from the Cantor Arts Center Collection,” July 3–September 22; a selection of old master drawings to complement "Storied Past"
• “Matisse Jazz,” July 31–September 22; colorful and lively subject matter with poetic text, 20 prints from Stanford Library’s Special Collections
Learn more about other French shows
Alexandre-Louis Leloir, Moroccan Girl, Playing a Stringed Instrument, 1875. Watercolor, gouache and graphite on ivory wove paper. Gift of the Wunsch Foundation, Inc., 1983. Blanton Museum of
Charles-Antoine Coypel, France Thanking Heaven for the Recovery of Louis XV, 1744. Black and white chalks with brush and gray wash and touches of red chalk on cream antique laid paper. Blanton Museum of Art, Suida-Manning Collection