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"Timeless Beauty: Representing the Ideal in Neoclassical Drawing"
1999-08-07 until 1999-10-31
Fogg Art Museum, Harvard
Cambridge, MA, USA United States of America

Exhibition Features Drawings by Jacques-Louis David, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Théodore Géricault, William Blake, and Anton Raphael Mengs Drawn from the Art Museum’s Important Collection of 18th and 19th Century European Drawings Cambridge, MA—July 1999—Timeless Beauty: Representing the Ideal in Neoclassical Drawing examines the development of the Neoclassical drawing style of artists of the late 18th and early 19th centuries—a period in which artists were looking back to the arts of the ancient Greeks and Romans, attempting to emulate the idealized forms found in vase paintings and sculpture in their own work. Drawn from the Fogg’s world-renowned collection of European drawings of the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as works from Harvard’s Houghton Library and the collection of Jeffrey E. Horvitz, this exhibition will focus on the purity of line and the simplicity of form that was so central to the pursuit of the classical ideal in drawing. Timeless Beauty will feature drawings by Jacques-Louis David, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Théodore Géricault, William Blake, and Anton Raphael Mengs, and include many works that are rarely exhibited. The exhibition opens at the Fogg Art Museum on August 7, where it will remain on view through October 31, 1999.

Timeless Beauty examines the origins, development, and ultimate dissolution of the drawing style of extreme linearity favored by artists working in the Neoclassical mode. Beginning in the 1750’s and lasting into the early decades of the 1800’s, artists adopted a more linear style in which form was rendered by means of a single contour line. This came at a time when the Enlightenment spirit of rationality increasingly pervaded European culture, and as tastes shifted away from the seductive coloring and flourishes of the rococo style towards an appreciation of form as an element of beauty that appealed to the intellect, drawing as a distinct discipline resumed the privileged place it had once held. Timeless Beauty will feature a selection of works that demonstrate this progression towards an ideal form, and the influences such a style had on subsequent generations of artists.

The Fogg’s long tradition of collecting and exhibiting 18th and 19th century European drawings has provided a tremendous resource for students and scholars and is one of the institution’s greatest legacies. We are very pleased to continue this tradition with Timeless Beauty and provide an opportunity for one of our graduate student interns to make an important contribution to the scholarship of drawings from this period, said James Cuno, Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director, Harvard University Art Museums. Timeless Beauty is organized by Jeffrey Fontana, 1997-1998 Lynn and Philip A. Straus Intern, Department of Drawings. The Curatorial Internship Program at the Art Museums is designed to broaden the experience of art historians who are considering the museum profession as a career. An essay by Fontana will be published in a gallery guide that will be available in the exhibition.

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