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ROMANTICISM AND THE SCHOOL OF NATURE: 19TH-CENTURY DRAWINGS AND PAINTINGS FROM THE COLLECTION OF KAREN B. COHEN

October 17, 2000 — January 21, 2001
Galleries for Drawings, Prints, and Photographs

One hundred fifteen exceptional 19th-century paintings, drawings, and oil sketches — many never before publicly exhibited — will be featured in this exhibition of selected works from the holdings of noted New York collector Karen B. Cohen. On view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from October 17, 2000, through January 21, 2001, Romanticism and the School of Nature: 19th-Century Drawings and Paintings from the Collection of Karen B. Cohen will include landscapes, portraits, figure compositions, and still lifes by the great artists of the Romantic period, the School of Barbizon, the Realist movement, and their followers, from Prud'hon to Seurat. At the center of the exhibition will be a selection of 20 images by Eugène Delacroix, ranging from pencil sketches to oil paintings and fully worked watercolors.

The Cohen collection reflects the highly personal taste of its owner, who has sought to build an integrated assemblage of works that share common themes and that includes preparatory works related to more finished drawings and paintings in the collection. Beyond the core of works by Delacroix, the exhibition will feature several artists closely associated with him, either through friendship or artistic influence. It will represent several artists in depth and feature a varied range of works by such masters as Couture, Gericault, Daubigny, Rousseau, and Redon. Among other highlights will be a group of oil paintings — both landscapes and portraits — by Courbet, and a series of luminous cloud studies by Constable.

The exhibition is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Philippe de Montebello, Director of the Metropolitan Museum, commented on the exhibition: "The Museum is delighted to present highlights from this extraordinary collection, which is one of the most significant holdings of such material in private hands. These remarkable works from the Cohen collection document a pivotal period in Western art and trace its evolution in masterworks by many of the best-loved artists of the era — Delacroix, Corot, Courbet, Seurat, and Constable, among many others. Karen Cohen — an Honorary Trustee and longtime supporter of the Museum — has proven herself time and again to be extraordinarily generous to this institution. We are grateful for her willingness to share this part of her collection with us for this exhibition, as indeed, we are for her promised gift to the Metropolitan — announced in 1998 — of many splendid works by Delacroix."

The exhibition will be organized both chronologically and thematically, reflecting the collector's personal response to the turbulent dramas of the Romantics, the fresh discovery of landscape by French and English artists of the School of Nature, and the somber realism of Courbet and his followers.

Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) will be represented by 20 works spanning his career and including early studies after Rubens, exotic scenes from Morocco, renderings of wild animals observed in the zoological gardens in Paris, and narrative scenes inspired by drama and literature. Among the nine oils by Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) are several monumental landscapes and seascapes, as well as a powerful self-portrait. Little known in the United States because many of his most important pictures remain in French collections, Thomas Couture will be represented by 11 works, including two oil sketches and a drawing for his acclaimed composition, The Enrollment of the Volunteers of 1792.

Publication
Romanticism and the School of Nature will be accompanied by an illustrated catalogue written by Colta Ives, Curator, with Elizabeth Barker, Assistant Curator, both of the Museum's Department of Drawings and Prints. Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the 312-page book will feature 160 illustrations, including 120 in color. It will be available in the Museum bookshops in a hardcover edition, and will be distributed by Yale University Press.

The exhibition is organized by Colta Ives. Conservation of the works was accomplished by Marjorie Shelley, Conservator in Charge, Department of Paper Conservation. Exhibition design is by Dan Kershaw, Exhibition Designer, with graphics by Jill Hammarberg, Graphic Designer, and lighting by Zack Zanolli, Lighting Designer, all of the Museum's Design Department.

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May 8, 2000

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