Michelangelo, “Study of a Mourning Woman,” circa 1500-1505, pen and brown ink, heightened with white, 26 x 16.5 cm

A robust stack of master drawings and an iconic painting recently became part of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Who are the masters added to the growing world-class collection?

On July 20, the J. Paul Getty Museum announced its acquisition of a number of incredible master drawings and an iconic painting by French artist Jean Antoine Watteau. Acquired as a group from a British private collection, the 16 drawings are by many of the greatest artists in western art history, including Michelangelo, Lorenzo di Credi, Andrea del Sarto, Parmigianino, Peter Paul Rubens, Barocci, Goya, Degas, and others.

Jean Antoine Watteau, “La Surprise,” circa 1718, oil on panel, 36.3 x 28.2 cm.

Getty Director Timothy Potts said, “This acquisition is truly a transformative event in the history of the Getty Museum. It brings into our collection many of the finest drawings of the Renaissance through the 19th century that have come to market over the past 30 years, including a number of masterpieces that are among the most famous works on paper by these artists. It is very unlikely that there will ever be another opportunity to elevate so significantly our representation of these artists, and, more importantly, the status of the Getty collection overall.

Parmigianino, “Head of a Young Man,” pen and brown ink

“No less exciting for the Department of Paintings is the addition of one of Watteau’s most famous and canonical works, ‘La Surprise.’ It was indeed a very welcome surprise when this lost masterpiece reappeared ten years ago in Britain. And one can see why: the act of seduction portrayed in the painting is matched only by the artist’s delicately flickering brushwork — the combination of titillating subject and charming rendition that made him the most esteemed painter of his day. It will be very much at home at the Getty, where it crowns our other exceptional 18th-century French paintings by Lancret, Chardin, Greuze, Fragonard, and Boucher.”

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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