19th century drawings - Degas pastel
Edgar Degas (1834–1917), "Before the Race," c. 1887–89, pastel with charcoal underdrawing on tracing paper mounted on cardboard, 22 5/8 x 25 3/4 in., bequest of Leonard C. Hanna, Jr., 1958.27

On View: “Nineteenth-Century French Drawings from the Cleveland Museum of Art”
Cleveland Museum of Art Cleveland
clevelandart.org, gilesltd.com
Through June 11, 2023

Since its opening in 1916, one of the Cleveland Museum of Art’s key collections has been its trove of French drawings from the 19th century. Made by almost 50 different artists, they range from preparatory graphite sketches to pastels finished for public display.

On view this season is a temporary exhibition of highlights, new research on which has just been published in a 200-page catalogue produced by D Giles Limited, London.

In 19th-century France, drawing evolved from a means of artistic training into an independent medium with rich potential for exploration and experimentation. A variety of materials became available to artists — such as commercially fabricated chalks, pastels, and specialty papers — encouraging talents ranging from Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres to Paul Cezanne to reconsider the place of drawing within their practices.

A growing number of public and private exhibition venues began to feature their creations, building an audience who were attracted by the intimacy of drawings and their unique techniques. In France and abroad, museums and individuals alike started to actively acquire these works while they were still contemporary.

Thanks to its deep pockets and insightful curators, the Cleveland Museum of Art has obtained outstanding examples right from its outset. Now everyone is invited to take a closer look.

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