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The Crocker Art Museum presents an intimate look at the history of French drawings
Charles de la Fosse, The Sleeping Rinaldo, 1686, black, red, and white chalk on blue laid paper. Snite Museum of Art: Gift of Mr. John D. Reilly ’63.
SACRAMENTO, CA.- The Crocker Art Museum presents “The Epic and the Intimate: French Drawings from the John D. Reilly Collection.” On view June 30 through September 29, 2013, this exhibition from the Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame brings together 60 works illustrating the history of French drawing from before the foundation of the Académie Royale de peinture et de sculpture (Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture) in 1648, through the French Revolution of 1789 and its subsequent reforms of the 1800s.

Now known as the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, the Academy has served as the epicenter of the French artistic world from the time it was founded. “The Epic and the Intimate” surveys the first three centuries of the Academy, beginning with its founders and their contemporaries and ending with works by artists such as Eugène Delacroix, Edgar Degas, and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. The exhibition traces the formation, triumph, and reform of the Academy, leading to the École des Beaux-Arts as it is today. At the same time, the exhibit showcases the artistic process as guided by the institution's principles. From figure studies by François Verdier in the early years to compositions by Jean-Honoré Fragonard and, later, landscapes by Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes, the drawings show the evolution of subject matter, technique, and artistic point of view. Other artists highlighted in the exhibition include Claude Lorrain, Charles de la Fosse, François Lemoyne, Antoine Watteau, François Boucher, Hubert Robert, Pierre Paul Prud’hon, and Honoré Daumier.

Arranged chronologically, the exhibition offers a glimpse to the historical context in which French drawings were made and offers insight into the transformation of French art over three hundred years as it accents the force and variety of artists trained at a single institution. The drawings on display demonstrate a range of media used, including chalk, ink and crayon. They also demonstrate a variety of favored subjects, such as narrative compositions, portraits, landscapes and genre scenes; and types of drawings from figure and drapery studies to quick sketches of initial ideas to complex and highly developed compositional works.

This exhibition is organized by the Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, from the John D. Reilly ’63 Collection of Old Master and Nineteenth-Century Drawings Collection. It is curated by Cheryl K. Snay, Ph.D., curator of European Art at the Snite; the Crocker Art Museum coordinating curator is William Breazeale, Ph.D.

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