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December 2009

Exhibition note

by Leann Davis Alspaugh

The Florentines established the primacy of draftsmanship, elevating drawing to an art form in its own right. Michelangelo is supposed to have said, “painting, sculpture, and architecture culminate in drawing. It is the primary source, and the soul of all kinds of painting, and the root of every science.” By the time the locus of artistic theory shifted to France in the seventeenth century, two camps had formed: artists who emphasized draftsmanship and those who favored colorism. Poussin was probably the first French artist to see drawing and color as antithetical. Le Brun preached the rationality of drawing against drowning in an “ocean of color.” “Renaissance to Revolution” seeks to reconcile these two camps, finding in three centuries of French drawing an argument for line, color, and, above all, virtuosity.

The exhibition opens with a group of didactic works intended for the education of François d&rs ...

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 28 December 2009, on page 42
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