Introduction by Ilona van Tuinen
Annette and Oscar de la Renta Assistant Curator, Drawings and Prints
The Morgan Library & Museum

In his collection of biographies of seventeenth-century Dutch artists, Arnold Houbraken offered an interesting glimpse into the everyday life of an artist when he described how Govaert Flinck spent his Sundays. It was the one day he put down his brushes and spent his free time away from the easel. After dutifully attending service in his local church, Flinck would devote the remainder of the day to crossing the canals of Amsterdam to visit artists, art lovers, and collectors such as Jan Six and Jan Uitenbogaert – specifically to browse through their albums of drawings and prints with them. Houbraken tells us that Flinck was able to discern and describe the idiosyncratic styles of all the different artists as well as select the most beautiful passages to use in his own work.

Flinck’s visits foreshadow the art viewings (kunstbeschouwingen), during which drawings were passed along and discussed by a select group of art lovers, as well as the membership societies for drawings, both of which had become firmly established by the eighteenth century. The vivid image of artists and collectors doing the rounds in Holland, looking at works of art together, training their eyes, and discussing what they saw, resonates with all of us who will meet in front of drawings in the galleries and auction houses this week in New York.

I have been deeply fortunate to work in two institutions where the shared experience of looking at drawings is paramount. At the Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, in Paris, drawings from all schools are passed around to as many people as fit around the table during the tables rondes, one of the highlights of the Salon du dessin each year. Frits Lugt himself, when he was seeking to make his astounding collection of works on paper accessible to scholars and connoisseurs, looked to American institutions for models, especially the Morgan Library, where I now have the pleasure of working. Between the programs of the Drawing Institute, the many visitors, and our keen and erudite team of colleagues and fellows there, hardly a day goes by without a lively discussion.

On my first day at the Fondation Custodia, director Ger Luijten predicted that my time there would change my life and enrich my soul. He was right,of course. I look forward to the continued enrichment during Master Drawings week, and I hope to share this experience with many of you.

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Master Drawings New York 2018

Change of dates:

Saturday 27 January to Saturday 3 February 2018

Preview day:

Friday 26 January, 4-8pm

Daily
11am - 6pm

Sunday 28 January
2pm - 6pm

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