The Department of Drawings and Prints boasts more than one million drawings, prints, and illustrated books made in Europe and the Americas from around 1400 to the present day. Because of their number and sensitivity to light, the works can only be exhibited for a limited period and are usually housed in on-site storage facilities. To highlight the vast range of works on paper, the department organizes four rotations a year in The Robert Wood Johnson, Jr. Gallery. Each installation is the product of a collaboration among curators and consists of up to one hundred objects grouped by artist, technique, style, period, or subject.
This installation highlights the broad range of accomplishments of artists working at the same time as French painter Jacques Louis David (1748–1825). Whether they emulated his manner or sought their own paths, shared his political beliefs or condemned them, artists of this period could hardly escape the impact of David’s work.
Works on view by David’s peers, pupils, and rivals explore the creativity and capacity for transformation that marked this vital period that spanned the last years of the French monarchy, the Revolution, the rise of Napoleon, and ultimately, the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy. The fast pace of political change accentuated the intertwined nature of art and politics, which permeated all levels of artistic production—from large-scale paintings to the decorative arts and fashion—as this selection of drawings and prints attests.
This display complements the exhibition Jacques Louis David: Radical Draftsman in galleries 691-693 (February 17 – May 15, 2022).
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