•Rarely published collection of uniquely important works of art
•Authorship that will draw a line from the Old Masters up to contemporary masters such as Hockney and Moore
•Accompanies an exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK, from 16 May - 8 September 2013
This new drawings' collection includes Raphael and Michelangelo; Dürer and the artists of the Northern Renaissance; Guercino and Rubens; Boucher and Tiepolo; German Romantics; J. M. W. Turner; Degas and Pissarro; the artists of the Ballets Russes; British 20th century artists from Gwen John to Hockney; among others. The collection in the Ashmolean is one of the greatest treasures of the University of Oxford. It began spectacularly in 1843 when a group of drawings by Raphael and Michelangelo that had previously belonged to the portrait painter, Sir Thomas Lawrence, was bought by subscription. To accompany the Raphaels and Michelangelos, the jewels in the crown of the collection, came more bequests - drawings and watercolors by Dürer, Claude Lorraine, Brueghel, and J. M. W Turner.
An important chapter is The Marks of the Masters: Materials and Techniques covering: the development of papers suitable for drawing, processes sparked by the demand for woodcut blocks of images and words, the metalpoint stylus and sable brush; pens that did not splatter ink; quality charcoal; natural chalks; graphite and watercolors. These developments are illustrated with unsurpassed examples (many seldom seen) by the above masters. I.e.: Hartmann Schedel's "Nutremberg Chronicle," a 15th century print showing the Nuremberg Printing Mill and Leon Bakst's "Design for the Count's Costume," a watercolor with gold and silver paint over graphite on paper. The annotations within the catalogue offer new insights into the creation of the works and their time in history, and the artists.
This is a story not only of Old Masters but of benefactors - Francis Douce, Chambers Hall, John Ruskin and their successors - whose different tastes account for the variety of the drawings. It is also the story of curators who bought them. In particular, the achievement of Sir Karl Parker who arrived at the museum in 1934 and left a collection when he retired in 1962 that covered the history of European drawing from its origins to the present day.