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Portrait, Figure, Sketch
English drawings from the 18th century

01.12.2009 to 28.03.2010


From December 2009, the Gemäldegalerie will host a small exhibition by the Museum of Prints and Drawings, comprising selected sheets of English drawings which shed light on this particular aspect of the collection for the first time ever.

The small exhibition highlights the various roles played by the art of drawing in the golden age of English portraiture.
Works by Johann Heinrich Füssli (an artist of Swiss origin who later achieved fame in England), Matthew William Peters, Jonathan Richardson (junior) and other artists are on show. When compared to the large portraits on canvas, there is a casualness to these portraits on paper that gives us a sense that they are true glimpses of private life. Besides works by these artists, figure studies and sketches by Thomas Gainsborough, Sir Joshua Reynolds and George Romney are also on display, which were highly regarded in their day for the apparent frankness and lack of pretension in their depictions.

As preparatory studies for the large portraits on canvas, such drawings as shown here were of great importance for these heroes of English portraiture, who used the medium to make sketches of the compositional structure of their paintings or to study details - certain poses, isolated parts of the body or folds in the sitter's clothing. As a result, the drawings afford us a revealing insight into the creative process behind the paintings.