Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, “Les Laveuses du Paillon,” circa 1854, graphite, charcoal and white chalk on tan paper, Georgia Museum of Art

The Georgia Museum of Art in Athens is proud to be showcasing selected works from the significant collection of Giuliano Ceseri.

Born in Italy and the son of a tenant farmer, Giuliano Ceseri was exposed to a range of great artworks from a young age, purchasing his first engraving at the age of 11. That engraving was only the beginning of what would become a massive private collection of prints and drawings that today numbers in the thousands. In 1995, the collector placed about 1,500 of those works on long-term loan to the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens, and selections from among them compose a current exhibition titled “Modern Masters from the Giuliano Ceseri Collection,” on view through November 12.

“Previous exhibitions of Ceseri’s collection have focused more often on the Renaissance-era drawings that make up a large portion of the works he owns,” the museum suggests. “This exhibition, on the other hand, consists of drawings by 19th- and 20th-century artists, both American and European, including one of the earliest Ceseri bought, at the age of 14. That drawing is by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, a highly regarded 19th-century French muralist. Although it is unsigned, the sketch of a washerwoman has writing on it that resembles that on other studies by the artist.

“While still a child, Ceseri worked in a factory that made nightlights, then as a waiter, buying drawings and prints as he was able to in antiques shops. He eventually parlayed his sharp eye into a career as a gallerist and moved to the United States in the 1970s.

“The works on display, selected by former Pierre Daura Curator of European Art Lynn Boland, show a wide range of styles, subjects, and purposes. Some are studies for finished works, some come from sketchbooks, and others appear to have been made as more finished works. Media are equally varied. Peggy Bacon’s caricature of her fellow artists uses lithographic crayon, a drawing by Giorgio de Chirico uses red chalk and watercolor, and Robert Henri’s two works in the show both make use of charcoal.

“Even as they differ, each work has an immediacy that sets it apart from paintings or prints by the same artists. Collectively, they offer an opportunity to study widely disparate approaches to making marks on paper. They also serve as an inspiration. Often, we think of collecting art as only for the wealthy, but Ceseri’s story shows that persistence and education are just as important as financial means.”

To learn more, visit the Georgia Museum of Art.

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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