In the weeks leading up to Christmas 2013, for one morning per week, you can see a print or drawing from our collection in the intimate setting of our Print Study Room. Next up is Constantin Guys’ ‘Deux femmes aux manchons‘.
Emily Rothrum, MA student at The Courtauld Institute of Art, explains why she chose this drawing and what it means to her. You can see the drawing for yourself on Monday 9 December, 10:30 – 1:30.
Constantin Guys, Deux femmes aux manchons (Two women with muffs)
I am currently pursuing my MA in 20th Century Sculpture at The Courtauld Institute of Art.
This work was part of Samuel Courtauld’s collection, and I chose it not only for its winter theme, but because I have always had an interest in nineteenth-century French culture.
As an undergraduate, I studied French and Art History, and Guys’ Deux femmes aux manchons reminded me of a favorite poem by Baudelaire, À une passante, in which he describes the passing beauty of a woman in the street.
Donning sumptuous muffs and voluminous coats, two ladies take a wintertime stroll, their slanting shadows suggesting the late afternoon.
Rendered hastily with rich, inky blacks and blues, the drawing is a sketchy depiction of a passing moment.
Deux femmes aux manchons is typical of Constantin Guys’ work. Heralded by Charles Baudelaire as the painter of modern life par excellence, Guys employed the fleeting and the everyday as his subject matter.
Working quickly and prolifically, he depicted the various figures, fashions, and scenes of modernity as they played out in the street.
Here, in a manner akin to nineteenth-century fashion plates, Guys carefully depicts the women’s costumes, including their various trimmings (bows, veils, muffs, etc.) and registering the flounce of a skirt and subsequent flash of an ankle.
Guys traveled widely, but his portrayals of Paris, and particularly of Parisian women, are his most renowned. A sort of flâneur, Guys soaked up what Baudelaire calls the “fantastic reality of life.”Categories: Collection | Tags: Constantin Guys, drawings, Students | Leave a comment
The Young Dürer: Drawing the Figure concentrates on the early figure drawings of the great German Renaissance artist. It focuses on Dürer’s journeyman years (c. 1490-96), during which he travelled widely and was exposed to a range of new influences.
The exhibition explores how Dürer reinvented artistic traditions through an ambitious new approach to the figure rooted in the study of his own body.
In our first short film Exhibition Curator Dr Stephanie Buck introduces us to the The Young Dürer.
In our second film, Stephanie focuses in detail on Dürer’s drawing of A Wise Virgin (1493)
You can see more videos from The Courtauld on our YouTube channel.
The Young Dürer: Drawing the Figure until 12 January 2013Exhibitions, The Young Dürer | Tags: drawing, Durer, film, The Wise Virgin, video | Leave a comment
Missing Halloween yet?
I am – so I went on a quest to find its eerie remnants and found disturbing evidence of danger and dread in our gallery.
Lurking beneath The Courtauld Gallery’s elegant, calm façade are unsettling stories of deadly diseases, papal prisoners and stormy seas.
Here are the top five disturbing stories the art in our collection has to tell.
This magnificent polyptych was Daddi’s last work, painted the year he died – of the bubonic plague.
Also known as the Black Death, the plague killed more than half of Florence’s population in the 14th century.
How long does bacteria survive, anyone?
Look closely, and you’ll see that the painting was left unfinished (check out the Virgin’s drapery!).
The reason: Its unfortunate creator was forced to flee Rome when the city was ransacked in 1527 by the troops of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V.
Sacking the city in search of money and treasure, the invaders took the pope prisoner (not nice!), pillaged monasteries and destroyed numerous works. This painting lived to tell the tale!
Imagine being created by a guy who has just mutilated his own ear after a disagreement with fellow artist Paul Gauguin – especially when the missing part of the ear was given to a prostitute to treasure!
Tudor England was a dangerous place to live and this extraordinary painting is a good reminder of this.
Sir John Luttrell, naked, is wading through a fierce stormy sea, while (if you look closely – click on the image for a larger view!), a pale head of a drowned man bobs past, possibly alluding to the death of Luttrell’s brother during the war.
Not dangerous per se, but a good story either way: Achilles is killed by a poisoned arrow through his heel, his only weak spot.
According to Greek mythology, Achilles’ mother, Thetis, dipped him head first in the river Styx to grant him invulnerability as a child. Fatally, she held him by the heel – which as a consequence was not touched by the strength-giving water.
If you look closely, you’ll see the sly fox killing the noble eagle at the foot of the stairs – a metaphor for the slaying of the Greek hero above.
Any other disturbing paintings you’ve come across?
Tell us about them! @CourtauldGallCategories: Collection | Tags: Bernardo Daddi, drawings, Gauguin, Hans Eworth, Parmigianino, Renaissance, rubens, self-portrait, Van Gogh | Leave a comment
In the weeks leading up to Christmas 2013, for one morning per week, you can see a print or drawing from our collection in the intimate setting of our Print Study Room. Next up is Charles-Louis Clérisseau’s ‘Basilica of Maxentius‘.
Camilla Pietrabissa, PhD student at The Courtauld Institute of Art, explains why she chose this drawing and what it means to her. You can see the drawing for yourself on Monday 2 December, 10:30 – 1:30.
The small drawing I selected comes from the collection of architectural studies formed by Professor Anthony Blunt.
Together, they show an important aspect of 18th century European culture: the cult of the antique as a crucial part of modern education and a desire to travel and see the sites of interest with one’s own eyes.
In my PhD project on 18th century France, I frequently deal with works that testify the interest for ancient architecture by artists, antiquarians, and architects of the time.
Drawings played an important role in such context: they were didactic tools and they served to aid the memory of visitor, once back home.
As I started my research on this particular drawing, I soon realized that I was not dealing with a faithful view of the Basilica, but with what in Italian is called capriccio, a form of disguised rendering of a particular view and a method to recreate a certain atmosphere by mixing elements from different sources.
Clérisseau was a fine connoisseur of Roman antiquities: he lived in Rome for almost twenty years from 1749 to 1767, first as a student of architecture at the French Academy, then as an independent drawing tutor to famous travellers such as the British architect Robert Adam.
Why did he create such an invention? For me, his drawing was meant to attest to the power of imagination rather than to provide an accurate depiction of the Basilica.
In fact, important figures owned this little drawing: Paul Sandby, a founding member of the Royal Academy, a topographer and watercolourist who had also gathered a fine collection of Master drawings, was the first owner of the work.
The inscription on the verso suggests that its second owner was Horace Walpole, whose vast art collection was sold in 1842 at Strawberry Hill, his Gothic home in southern London.
Such a remarkable lineage, along with the geometrically decorated mount in all probability coeval to the first acquisition, indicates an interest in this kind of drawing that might not be evident at first.
However, the French may have considered such artistic practice too repetitive or driven by other interests.
For the eminent collector Pierre Jean Mariette «Clérisseau has always been occupied at making drawings of ruins from imagination for the British, from which he makes good money».Categories: Collection | Tags: Anthony Blunt, architecture, Clerisseau, drawings, Horace Walpole, prints | Leave a comment
In the weeks leading up to Christmas 2013, for one morning per week, you can see a print or drawing from our collection in the intimate setting of our Print Study Room. Next up is Tiepolo’s ‘A Magician (?) surrounded by a a group of figures’.
Bryony Bartlett-Rawlings, Prints and Drawings Study Room Assistant, explains why she chose this drawing and what it means to her. You can see the drawing for yourself on Wednesday 27 November, 10am-12.3opm.
I first discovered the rich collection of prints and drawings at The Courtauld when studying for a Masters there in 2005. I found it really inspiring to work directly with this collection that covers such a broad period in the history of art; from the Renaissance through to the present day.
After leaving The Courtauld I worked at the V&A as Assistant Curator of Paintings and Drawings. This September I returned to The Courtauld to begin my PhD on early 16th-century Italian prints and drawings. I am delighted that I am also able to return as Print Room Assistant and work once again with the collection.
My favourite display that I curated whilst at the V&A was Venetian Visions. This showcased Venetian art, and in particular prints and drawings, from 1703-1797.
Although I knew Giovanni Battista Tiepolo’s paintings from trips to Venice and the Veneto, it was only through working on Venetian Visions that I discovered the artist’s drawings.
Tiepolo is a particularly interesting draughtsman.
He used drawings to develop designs for paintings and sculpture as well as compositional studies. These drawings reflect the artist’s mastery of different media and create powerful images, described by one contemporary as ‘all spirit and fire’.
I’ve chosen this drawing as I feel it exemplifies Tiepolo as a draughtsman.
The identity of the figure in a turban is unclear. He occurs frequently in Tiepolo’s work and is often interpreted as a magician.
Figures group around the magician, who points down to the lower centre of the sheet. Rapid lines of pen and wash emphasise his powerful gesture. Fluent pen strokes capture the figures that huddle together, looking down to where the hand points.
The arrangement of the figures recalls that of A Magician pointing to a burning head from the series Tiepolo’s of etchings, the Scherzi di Fantasia.
This drawing may be an early sketch for that etching. The Scherzi di Fantasia often show mysterious figures wearing classical and oriental costume gathered around a magician. The exact meaning of these etchings is still unknown.
For me, both his drawings and etchings provide an intimate insight into Tiepolo’s working process and inventive mind.
You can see Bryony’s choice this Wednesday 27 November 2013, 10am – 12.30pm.Categories: Collection | Tags: drawings, etchings, prints, Tiepolo, V&A | Leave a comment