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The French Drawings of the XVII Century from the Hermitage collection
21 September 1999 - 25 December 1999

In the 17 th century France gave the world a galaxy of outstanding drawers. Lagneau and Dumoustier, Bellange and Callot, Poussin and Lorrain greatly influenced the development of French art of drawing. Among 80 drawings on display there are works by both remarkable masters of Mannerism, Classicism, Academism and rare lists of artists not so well-known.A renown master of pencil portraiture Daniel Dumoustier (1574-1646) is represented in the Hermitage collection by 11 splendid drawings among which there are smart female portraits in light pastel colours and more serene male portraits in darker colour-scheme. A contemporary of Dumoustier - Lagneau (creative activities at the end of the 16 th - first quarter of the 17 th cc.) is still a mysterious figure: neither his date of birth or death, nor his place of birth or even his name are known. "Lagneau" is a term implying works of different artists of "Lagneau circle". "Portrait of an Old Man" from the Hermitage is traditionally supposed to be a masterpiece of the artist himself. Pencil drawings of Jacques Bellange (before 1575-1616) belong to the best examples of European manneristic art. The Hermitage collection includes his comparatively early genre drawings ("Gipsy Woman with Children") and later works ("Seating Woman", "Sketch of the Figure of Apostle"). Jacques Callot (1592-1635), a genius artist, is represented at the exhibition by expressive and dynamic drawings showing different aspects of his artistic talent. "Portrait of Louisa-Marie de Gonzaga" and "Portrait of Nicolas Fabry de Peiresc" are the best examples of portrait painting of Claude Mellan (1598-1688). The first-rate Hermitage collection of his drawings ranks the best in the world together with the collection from the National Museum in Stokholm. The collection of works by Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665), a famed artist of Classicism, mostly includes sketches from nature drawn as studies for his future paintings, for example a sketch of composition to the picture "Baptism" from the National Gallery in Edinburgh. "Classical Landscape with Figures" by Poussin, a masterpiece of landscape painting, is executed in his favourite technique with a pen and a brush in brown colour. All in all there are 40 original drawings of this master in the Hermitage collection. One of the most outstanding landscapists of classical style was Claude Gellee called Lorrain (1600-1682) whose drawings were quite often more picturesque than his paintings. The exhibition gives a chance to see works of this artist different in style and composition ("View of the Church Santa Trinita dei Monti in Rome", "Landscape with Figures", "Landscape with the Tiber"). Chales Lebrun (1619-1690) is closing this list of brilliant drawers of the 17 th century. He was the first painter of the king, one of the founders of the Academy of Arts in Paris, director of the Royal Gobelin Manufacture. His mastership and talent for drawing are clearly seen in the finished sketches of compositions: drawings for tapestries "Curtain with the coat of arms of Fouquet" and "Arrival of Louis XIV to Dunkirk", drawing "Spring", study to the "Plafond with a Snake" in the chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte.
The exposition includes not only works of well-known masters but drawings of less important artists as well such as Eustache Le Sueur (1617-1655) and Raymond La Fage (1656-1684); unique drawings that hardly have any analogues even in the museums of France - "Portrait of Philipp of Savoy as a child" by Floran de Lamard-Richard (c.1630-1718), "Bouquet of Flowers in a Vase" by Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer (1636-1699), "Miracle of St.Nicolas" by Louis Herluison (1667-1706).


Portrait of an Old Woman.

Larger view

Curtain with the coat of arms of Fouquet
Charles Lebrun
Larger view

Classical Landscape with Fiqures.
Nicolas Poussin
Larger view

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