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Press release

French Nineteenth-Century Drawings in the Robert Lehman Collection

Exhibition dates: November 19, 2002 - February 9, 2003
Exhibition location: Robert Lehman Wing, court level

This is the first exhibition in 20 years to survey the rich holdings of French 19th-century drawings and watercolors in The Metropolitan Museum of Art's renowned Robert Lehman Collection. On view from November 19, 2002, through February 9, 2003, French Nineteenth-Century Drawings in the Robert Lehman Collection will feature more than 80 works by most of the leading artists — Ingres, Delacroix, Rousseau, Degas, Renoir, and Seurat, to name just a few — of this pivotal epoch in the history of French art. Organized to coincide with the publication of Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century European Drawings, volume IX in the complete series of Robert Lehman Collection scholarly catalogues, both the exhibition and the book will reveal yet another facet of the taste of one of the great American collectors of the 20th century.

The exhibition is made possible by Robert Lehman Foundation, Inc.

A truly discerning collector, Mr. Lehman, who died in 1969, amassed drawings from every significant school of French art of the century, beginning with the heroic Neoclassicism of Jacques-Louis David and the Romantic sketches of Eugène Delacroix for his grand literary and allegorical paintings. The exhibition will also feature landscapes by artists associated with the Barbizon school — Corot, Daubigny, Rousseau, Millet, and Harpignies, among others. Often working in the Forest of Fontainebleau near Paris, their lyrical appreciation of nature dramatically changed the course and conception of landscape painting. The Impressionist masters are represented by landscapes and intimate studies, as well as major figure drawings by Degas, Renoir, and Morisot. Closing the century, the exhibition will feature the work of Seurat, Signac, and Cross, highlighting Mr. Lehman's extensive acquisitions in the area of Neo-Impressionism.

Among the highlights of the exhibition are Courbet's pencil sketch of himself as a young artist, Angrand's striking charcoal self-portrait, and three exceptionally refined portrait drawings by Ingres. The collection includes a working drawing by Delacroix for his lithographic illustrations of Goethe's Goetz von Berlichingen, and a majestic preparatory study for Seurat's masterpiece Poseuses. Among Daumier's satirical sketches in the collection, two related drawings of reveling drinkers map the artist's progression from a first linear study in charcoal to a more developed characterization in charcoal and tonal wash. Vallatton captures the vibrant activity of Parisian streets, highlighting the simple, modern pleasures of daily life — themes that recur throughout the exhibition.

The catalogue, Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century European Drawings, volume IX in the series of Robert Lehman Collection catalogues, is published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Princeton University Press. It is written by Richard Brettell, with contributions by Françoise Forster-Hahn, Duncan Robinson, and Janis Tomlinson.

French Nineteenth-Century Drawings in the Robert Lehman Collection is organized by Dita Amory, Associate Curator of the Robert Lehman Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

A variety of educational programs will be offered in conjunction with this exhibition.

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The Robert Lehman Collection The Robert Lehman Collection — numbering nearly 3,000 works of art and one of the most extraordinary private collections ever assembled in the United States - was presented to the Metropolitan Museum by the Robert Lehman Foundation following Mr. Lehman's death in 1969. The collection, assembled by Mr. Lehman and his parents, is extraordinarily wide-ranging and includes Renaissance, Old Master, Impressionist, and Post-Impressionist paintings and drawings, rare manuscripts, bronzes, furniture, enamels, maiolica, Venetian glass, jewelry, and textiles. The Robert Lehman Wing at The Metropolitan Museum of Art opened to the public in 1975.
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