On View Jan. 25 through may 11, 2014

New scholarship illuminates renowned collection of Italian drawings

PRINCETON, NJ – More than 100 masterworks—accompanied by new research and fresh insights—from the Princeton University Art Museum’s distinguished collection of Italian drawings from the 15th through the early 20th centuries will be on view in 500 Years of Italian Master Drawings from the Princeton University Art Museum. Rarely seen highlights by such artists as Barocci, Bernini, Carpaccio, Annibale Carracci, Guercino, Michelangelo, Modigliani, Parmigianino, Giambattista and Domenico Tiepolo, Tintoretto and Veronese will be included in the exhibition, which runs from Jan. 25 through May 11, 2014.

Curated by Laura Giles, the Heather and Paul G. Haaga Jr., Class of 1970, Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Princeton University Art Museum, 500 Years of Italian Master Drawings highlights a broad spectrum of works, ranging from the early Renaissance to early Modernism. Beyond its chronological and stylistic sweep, this panoramic exhibition provides dazzling examples of the pivotal role played by drawing, or “disegno,” in the Italian design process, encompassing both the mental formulation and the physical act of creation—with a particular emphasis on the human figure.

The exhibition, organized thematically, represents the results of new scholarship on a significant portion of the Museum’s renowned collection of over 1,000 Italian drawings, is accompanied by a major scholarly catalogue, Italian Master Drawings from the Princeton University Art Museum.


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“Princeton’s superb collection of Italian drawings is an outstanding visual resource that deserves to be more widely known,” said Museum Director James Steward. “This major project is a glorious opportunity to share with the public, through both the exhibition and the catalogue, masterpieces that bring to life the immediacy and dynamism of Italian draftsmanship over the centuries.”

Many of the drawings in the exhibition have benefited from new discoveries concerning attribution, iconography, date, function and provenance. Among the many noteworthy findings is the discovery, first made in the 1990s, of an architectural sketch by Michelangelo on the reverse side of a study of heads that had been tentatively associated with the artist. The ground plan for an unrealized chapel was revealed through infrared reflectography.

The catalogue is authored and edited by Giles, with major contributions by Princeton University Lecturer in the Department of Art & Archaeology Lia Markey and independent writer and scholar Claire Van Cleave, with additional contributions by other leading specialists in the field. The publication is the first since 1977 to focus on the Museum’s expansive collection of Italian drawings and received major funding from the Getty Foundation.

In addition to the publication, the Museum’s online collections catalogue will be updated with new research and high-resolution images, providing full access to the Museum’s significant holdings of Italian drawings.


500 Years of Italian Master Drawings from the Princeton University Art Museum has been made possible by generous support from Diane W. Burke; Susan and John Diekman, Class of 1965; John H. Rassweiler; the Allen R. Adler, Class of 1967, Exhibitions Fund; the Caroline G. Mather Fund; the Apparatus Fund; and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. The publication has been made possible, in part, by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with the assistance of The Getty Foundation. Further support has been provided by the Partners and Friends of the Princeton University Art Museum.

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...