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The National Gallery of Art acquires works by Friedrich Sustris and Arthur Wesley Dow
Arthur Wesley Dow, Marsh Creek, c. 1914. Color woodcut on laid paper, sheet: 11.43 x 17.78 cm (4 1/2 x 7 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington. Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund 2021.16.1.



WASHINGTON, DC.- The National Gallery of Art has recently acquired Euterpe (Personification of Music) (1569/1573), an outstanding drawing by Friedrich Sustris (c. 1540–1599). Created shortly after Sustris’s arrival in what is now modern Germany, the work exemplifies his broad stylistic knowledge and refinement. It joins two other drawings by the artist in the collection: The Baptism of Christ (probably 1580s) and An Elaborate Altar with the Resurrection of Christ and the Martyrdom of Saint Andrew (1570/1580).

Of Netherlandish origin but born in Padua, Italy, Sustris trained with his father, Lambert, a painter in Titian’s circle. He worked briefly in Rome and went on to spent four years in the painter Giorgio Vasari’s studio in Florence. His first decorative project was in the Fugger Palace (1568–1573) for a powerful banking family in Augsburg, Germany.

One of the very few studies that can be directly connected to that project, the drawing depicts Euterpe, the muse of music, holding a lyre and organ pipes. Sustris combined Italianate iconography with a technique reminiscent of Vasari and an extreme refinement of form found in works by Parmigianino. This drawing provides evidence of the original appearance and rare beauty of the fresco cycle, which was badly damaged in World War II.

Acquisition: Arthur Wesley Dow

Best known for his innovative color woodcuts, Arthur Wesley Dow (1857–1922) was an accomplished painter, printmaker, and photographer and a central figure in the American arts and crafts movement. His influential manual Composition (first published in 1899) expounded his artistic theory based on Japanese design principles and significantly altered the development of art instruction in the United States. Among the most notable modernists who were inspired by Dow’s teachings are Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986) and Max Weber (1881–1961). The National Gallery of Art has acquired Marsh Creek (c. 1914)—its first color woodcut by Dow—which captures the experience of a coastal landscape at dusk. This print exemplifies the artist’s simplification of forms using a flat, decorative approach and focusing on the essential elements of line, color, and tone and the harmonious arrangement of light and dark areas within a composition. Marsh Creek joins two photographs by Dow already in the collection.










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