The Essence of Line: French Drawings from Ingres to Degas

The Essence of Line: French Drawings from Ingres to Degas


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Essays by Jay Fisher, William R. Johnston, Kim Schenck, and Cheryl K. Snay

Paperback, 408 p., 195 color illus.

Many patrons of the arts in 19-century America built collections of paintings and sculpture imported primarily from England or Italy. Collectors in Baltimore—William Walters, George Lucas, the famous Cone sisters, among others—stand out in this milieu for having developed a strikingly different aesthetic for their homes and newly founded public institutions. These collectors looked to France for models of culture and, acting upon a remarkable understanding of the educational needs and working methods of artists, assembled extensive collections of drawings by French masters, from David to Daumier, Degas, and Cézanne.

The Essence of Line offers the first comprehensive discussion of the formation of these collections and their significance for the history of French art. The book begins with essays by Jay M. Fisher, William R. Johnston, and Cheryl K. Snay that trace the history of collecting in Baltimore and afford new insights into the acquisition, display, and interpretation of drawings. In her essay, conservator Kimberly Schenck bridges the worlds of the collector and of the artist by examining the production and the use of drawing materials in an epoch of radical changes as much in technique as style. This book also provides a fully illustrated, scholarly catalogue for one hundred of the most important of the 19th–century French drawings now held by The Baltimore Museum of Art, the Walters Art Museum, and the Peabody Art Collection.

This book presents a brilliant panorama of sketches, watercolors, and presentation drawings, many of them little known outside a small circle of experts. It is correlated with an online archive of the entire corpus of 19th–century French drawings in the holdings of these Baltimore museums.

This catalogue was published in conjunction with an exhibition at The Baltimore Museum of Art, June 19–September 11, 2005.

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