An outstanding collection of French drawings, which includes works by Poussin, Boucher, Ingres, Corot, Pissarro and Seurat; important works by lesser-known masters - Jeaurat, Lancrenon, Hesse and Dulac - and artist-writers Eugène Fromentin and George Sand, is at the Wallace Collection
from 23 September.
Over the last thirty years the National Gallery of Scotland has carefully and deliberately strengthened its holdings of French drawings to rival its holdings of French paintings. This quiet but ongoing acquisitions programme began when many of the artists were considered unfashionable. As a result the National Gallery of Scotland was able to acquire works for what would now be considered bargain prices. Additionally very few UK national institutions have built a collection of French drawings making this one all the more significant.
The subjects covered in the exhibition range from the courtly art of Fontainebleau in the sixteenth century to the more down-to-earth imagery of the Realists and Impressionists in the nineteenth century. There are preparatory drawings for tapestries and for ambitious Salon pictures, as well as figure studies made in the studio or landscape sketches inspired by study in the open air. There is a particularly striking and personal image of a pregnant Jewish woman from Algeria wearing an extraordinary metal, cone-shaped headdress.
Poussins exceptional preparatory drawing for one of the greatest paintings in the Wallace Collection, Dance to the Music of Time, will go on display at the museum for only the second time since it was seen in Poussins studio in 1640.
Two artist-writers feature in the selection Eugène Fromentin, whose most celebrated text is Les maîtres dautrefois, and the novelist George Sand, whose extraordinary invented landscape watercolours anticipate the work of Surrealists such as Max Ernst in the twentieth century.
The selection for this exhibition, which will later be shown in Edinburgh, has been made so as to relate to paintings on display at the Wallace Collection, hence the choice of Dance To The Music of Time and also drawings by Claude, Watteau, Scheffer, Decamps and Delaroche all masters who are particularly associated with the collecting of Lord Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace.