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Indepth Arts News:

"Charles Bargue: The Art of Drawing"
2003-11-25 until 2004-02-08
Dahesh Museum of Art
New York, NY, USA United States of America

Generations of late 19th-century art students, including Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso, made active use of a series of 200 lithographed drawings of the nude figure created by a little-known French artist, Charles Bargue (1825/26-1883). Bargue, hugely talented and probably self-taught, first published the exquisite collection of plates called the Cours de Dessin in Paris with Goupil & Cie between 1868 and 1873. Goupil connected Bargue with one of his best selling artists, Gérôme, and together they published and sold thousands of these teaching manuals.

Young artists copied plates in sequence in order to perfect their drawing skills, hoping to emulate Bargue’s refinement of line, shading, volume, and perspective. While other such manuals were in circulation at the time, Bargues was considered by far the most complete, and technically proficient. It soon became the most popular drawing course of the 19th century and gave Bargue a reputation as not only a lithographer, or craftsman, but most importantly an artist to watch.

Therefore, the Dahesh Museum of Art is proud to present Charles Bargue: The Art of Drawing, the first exhibition devoted to this artist and his oeuvre. Among the rarely seen treasures is one of the last remaining Cours de Dessin (the most important of only two complete sets known to exist); the majority of Bargue’s extremely rare oil paintings, jewel-like works that were highly sought after by major contemporary collectors in both Europe and the United States; and a selection of his most significant drawings. The Dahesh will add its own Bargue drawings to supplement the exhibition.

Lenders to the exhibition include the Musée Goupil, Bordeaux, France; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Walters Art Museum; the National Museum and Gallery [of Wales]; the National Museum of Sweden, Stockholm; Boston Museum of Fine Arts; the Paine Art Center and Arboretum; the Arnot Art Museum; the Malden Public Library; Princeton University, Art Museum; and the Fitzwilliam Museum; as well as a number of private collectors.

The exhibition coincides with the long anticipated re-publication (by ACR Press, Paris) of the original Cours de Dessin, set in a hard cover sleeve. Guest Curator Professor Gerald M. Ackerman, the pre-eminent Gérôme and Bargue scholar, is the author of the accompanying exhibition monograph, published in cooperation with the Dahesh Museum of Art. His incisive interpretations of each plate, afford the artist/reader with a clear understanding of how the manual was meant to function as a teaching tool. Ackerman’s biography of Bargue is the first ever published anywhere.

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