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Italian Old Master Drawings from the Tobey Collection on View at Metropolitan Museum

Through September 19, 2010

An Italian Journey: Drawings from the Tobey Collection, Correggio to Tiepolo presents 72 extraordinary works of the 16th through 18th centuries, from one of the preeminent collections of Italian Old Master drawings in private hands. It features masterpieces by gifted and historically important draftsmen—principally Italian masters but also artists whose careers brought them south of the Alps—among them Correggio, Parmigianino, Bernini, Poussin, Guercino, Canaletto, and Tiepolo. The drawings represent the principal centers of Italian art: Florence, Rome, Naples, Bologna, Parma, Venice, Genoa, and Milan. Their strikingly broad range of subject matter includes figure studies, historical and mythological narratives, landscapes, vedute, botanical drawings, motifs copied from or inspired by classical antiquity, and designs for painted compositions.

The 16th-century Italian painter and biographer Giorgio Vasari has been credited with formulating the concept of Renaissance art in his celebrated Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (1550). He also invented the practice of systematically collecting Italian drawings in compiling his Libro dei disegni, a volume comprising examples by many of the artists whose biographies he authored. From Vasari's time until the present, such works—intimate glimpses of an artist's imagination and creative powers at work—have held a seductive allure and an intellectual appeal for collectors and connoisseurs alike. An Italian Journey offers a unique glimpse of the myriad riches of this exceptional collection, presented to the public for the first time.

Among the many treasures of the collection on view are a recently discovered, magnificent red chalk drawing of the head of Julius Caesar by Andrea del Sarto, the leading Florentine painter of the first decades of the 16th century; a luminous study by Correggio for the figure of Eve in his great masterpiece, the painted dome of the cathedral of Parma; a sprightly pen drawing by his younger contemporary Parmigianino—hailed in his day as the spirit of the divine Raphael reborn—for one of his most important painted portraits; brilliantly rendered colored studies by the Florentine artist Jacopo Ligozzi, one depicting, with poetry and scientific precision, a plant, and another an exotic Oriental theme; a powerful study of a recumbent nude man by the towering genius of Baroque Rome, Gianlorenzo Bernini, and of a fanciful ship by his contemporary, the sculptor Alessandro Algardi, made for the pope; a rich concentration of drawings by some of the leading Bolognese painters of the 17th century, notably Guercino (who is represented by three masterful studies), Guido Reni, and Domenichino; and fine examples by the great Venetian draftsmen of the 18th century, among them Canaletto, Guardi, Piranesi, and the greatest artistic luminary of the age, Giambattista Tiepolo.

An Italian Journey: Drawings from the Tobey Collection, Correggio to Tiepolo is organized by Linda Wolk-Simon, Curator, George R. Goldner, Drue Heinz Chairman, and Carmen C. Bambach, Curator, all of the Metropolitan Museum's Department of Drawings and Prints.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue by Linda Wolk-Simon and Carmen C. Bambach, with contributions by Stijn Alsteens, George R. Goldner, Perrin Stein, and Mary Vaccaro. It is published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University Press and is for sale in the Museum's bookshops (hardcover, $50).

Among the educational programs accompanying the exhibition are lectures; gallery talks; film screenings; a workshop for teachers; and family programs in English and Spanish.

The exhibition is featured on the Museum's website at www.metmuseum.org.

July 2, 2010

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