The Morgan Acquires Important Drawings by Hockney, Puryear, and Camille Corot

399845v_0001.jpgNew York, NY, February 15, 2017 — The Morgan Library & Museum announced today the acquisition of three major drawings by David Hockney, Martin Puryear, and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. Each is a valuable addition to a drawings collection at the Morgan that is considered one of the greatest in the world.

“We are delighted to announce the acquisition of these outstanding works,” said Colin B. Bailey, director of the museum. “The Hockney is a superb and iconic example of his precise, delicate style of the 1960s and depicts one of his muses, fabric designer Celia Birtwell. The Martin Puryear comes on the heels of the successful exhibition of his drawings we held in 2015, while the Corot is characteristic of the artist’s best portrait drawings of the 1830s. We are deeply grateful to the donors whose generous support made these acquisitions possible."

David Hockney (British, b. 1937) Celia, Paris, 1969, pen and ink on paper. The Morgan Library & Museum. Purchased as the gift of the Katherine J. Rayner Fund of the Anne Cox Chambers Foundation

One of the most popular British artists of the twentieth century, David Hockney has been a versatile and prolific painter since the 1960s. It is his talent as a draughtsman, however, that is at the core of his reputation, especially the drawings from life that he began making in the late 1960s. Celia, Paris is a superb example of such a drawing. Frequently reproduced in the literature on Hockney, it is particularly important on two counts: first, as an early and very refined example of the precise, delicate line drawing—indebted to Ingres and Picasso— that Hockney developed in the late 1960s, notably in portraits of friends and family; and second, as a portrait of Celia Birtwell, a British fabric designer who was Hockney’s most constant muse from 1968 on. (Celia and her husband, fashion designer Ossie Clark, are the subject of one of Hockney’s most famous paintings, Mr. and Mrs. Clark and Percy of 1970-71, in the Tate’s collection). Hockney depicted Celia in many colored pencil drawings in the early1970s. The present drawing, in which Celia’s relaxed pose conveys the intimacy between artist and sitter, is one of his earliest of her. 

Martin Puryear (American, b. 1941), Drawing for Untitled, 1990, black Conté crayon, with smudging, on ivory paper. The Morgan Library & Museum, Purchased with funds provided by Agnes Gund, The Ronald & Jo Carole Lauder Foundation, and Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin M. Rosen. 

American sculptor Martin Puryear is known for the elegance and refinement of his abstract, hand-made constructions, primarily in wood.  Drawing has always been essential to his practice, as the exhibition, Martin Puryear: Multiple Dimensions, shown at the Morgan in 2015, demonstrated. Drawing for Untitled—which was included in the exhibition—depicts a classic image in Martin Puryear’s repertoire, harking back to the heads he drew while in Sierra Leone in the 1960s and anticipating sculptures such as VesselFace Down, and the Getty’s That Profile of the late 1990s and 2000s. The sense of touch suggested by the blurry contours, smudges, and fingerprints on the sheet, conjures up Puryear’s hands-on approach to his sculpture as well as his prints and drawings. This  is the first work by Martin Puryear to enter the Morgan, where it joins many drawings by sculptors from the Renaissance to the present.  

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (French, 1796-1875), Seated Camaldolese Monk, 1834, graphite on paper. The Morgan Library & Museum. Gift of Jill Newhouse.                                                   

This finely observed, precisely rendered study of a seated monk in profile is characteristic of Corot’s best portrait drawings of the 1830s, and most probably dates from Corot’s second trip to Italy.  This was a relatively short, six-month trip in which the artist focused on picturesque sites, views and figures that would serve him in composing Salon paintings, and included Corot’s only visit to Tuscany and Florence.  The sitter’s white habit, leather belt (as opposed to a cord) and long beard confirm the inscription which identifies him as a member of the Camaldolese branch of the Benedictines.  An ascetic order founded by San Romualdo in 1046, their name derives from their 11th century hermitage in the Camaldoli mountains, located in the Casentino valley in Tuscany.  The setting of the hilltop convent and the magnificent views surrounding it would have been attractive to Corot, who may have spent the night there, as the hermitage offered free lodging to male visitors during this period. 

Image: Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (French, 1796-1875), Seated Camaldolese Monk, 1834, graphite on paper. The Morgan Library & Museum. Gift of Jill Newhouse.         

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