On the 16th June 2020, the Old Master and 19th Century Art department will be holding its grand sale for this semester. Amongst the many exceptional works set to go under the hammer is a selection of 18th-century drawings from a Brussels-based collection. The greatest names in French, German and Italian art will feature, including Watteau, Tiepolo, Géricault, Oudry and Mengs. We have highlighted three of these remarkable drawings below.
Famous for his graceful, very delicate art, Antonine Watteau brought the same unique sensitivity to his numerous studies as he did to his soft-hued small canvases. This red chalk sketch dated circa 1712 has two seated women on the front. Both have been matched by Margaret Morgan Grasseli to complete compositions by the artist, shedding light on the provenance of the models. On the back, which dates from a year or two earlier, are seven individuals based on popular figures and drawn in two different registers, some of them reminiscent of the Savoyards who would appear later in Watteau’s work.
In this work with its highly sought-after iconography, the famous tale of the young Trojan shepherd, Paris offers an alluring scene depicting three female nudes.
Here, the artist and major neoclassical theorist Mengs draws inspiration from the antique examples of great masters like Raphaël and Corrège, who was synonymous with perfection in art, as evidenced by the virtuoso construction of the drawing and the harmony of the figures. Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia wisely acquired the painting that this drawing helped the artist to prepare, and today it is part of the Hermitage collections in St Petersburg.
This work was completed by the artist in 1816 during his first trip to Italy and takes inspiration from many prestigious sources. A leading light in romanticism, Théodore Géricault was deeply influenced by the early romantic works of the 19th century, such as those by Baron Gros; as well as by artists like Michelangelo and Rubens. He was an artist who followed few academic rules, and this fascinating study bears testimony to his creative madness, the male figures intermingling in a study for a gigantomachy, typifying his profoundly free way of creating art.