Stephen Ongpin Fine Art is pleased to present its third annual exhibition of Master Drawings, to be held at its gallery in St. James’s in London from the 1st to the 24th of July. The exhibition will include around fifty drawings by Italian, French and British artists, ranging in date from the early 16th century to the late 20th century, and will be a part of the week of drawings exhibitions known as Master Drawings in London.
Among the Italian drawings in the exhibition is a fine group of 16th century Tuscan drawings, including important works by Lodovico Cigoli and Andrea Boscoli, as well as a drawing by Francesco Vanni that is a preparatory study for an engraving from a series of the Life of Saint Catherine. A choice group of 17th and 18th century Italian drawings includes fine examples by Domenico Piola, Giambattista Tiepolo and Gaetano Gandolfi, as well as a double-sided red chalk sheet by Carlo Maratta and a very large and impressive drawing of A Pagan Sacrifice by the Venetian artist Francesco Fontebasso. Also among the 18th century drawings is a watercolour view of the Temple of Saturn in Rome by Hubert Robert.
An impressive group of 19th century drawings includes two other Italian views by French artists; a watercolour of the Villa of Maecenas at Tivoli by François-Marius Granet and a superb pencil drawing of the Roman Forum by Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, which is dated December 1825 and is thus one of only two known drawings from the very first weeks of the artist’s seminal trip to Italy. Other 19th century drawings include a rare and fresh example of a landscape watercolour by Eugène Delacroix and a bold and freely executed drawing of Galloping Horses by Théodore Géricault – one of the largest drawings ever produced by the artist - as well as a study by Adolph von Menzel for a lost painting of 1884. A large watercolour view of the town of Jaffa in Palestine by the German Orientalist painter Gustav Bauernfeind will be shown alongside another Orientalist work by the Italian Domenico Morelli.
Undoubtedly the most significant 19th century drawing in the exhibition, however, is a large and fresh pastel view of Waterloo Bridge in London by Claude Monet, drawn in 1901 during the artist’s final stay in London, when he painted views of the Thames. Having remained in a Swiss collection for over sixty years and in pristine condition, the pastel has never been previously exhibited or published. Monet had arrived in London at the end of January 1901 to find that his painting materials had been held up at customs and had not yet reached him, and immediately began to work on ‘a few pastel sketches’, as he wrote in a letter to his wife Alice. The following day he wrote again: ‘[I] continue to experiment with pastel. I enjoy it very much even though I’m not accustomed to using it; it keeps me busy and may even help me’, while the next day he added, ‘it is true that I am not wasting my time on this: I am looking a great deal and observing what I will be working on; I am making many pastel studies which function as exercises.’ By the 1st of February he was back at work on his paintings, but still wrote to Alice that ‘It is thanks to my pastels, made swiftly, that I realized how to proceed.’ Signed in full by the artist, this pastel was almost certainly regarded by Monet as a finished work of art, and is a new and superb addition to this choice group of atmospheric drawings by the artist.
Another particular highlight of the exhibition is a charming pastel portrait by Paul-César Helleu of a young, redheaded girl. Dated 1880, when the artist was just 21, the pastel already shows Helleu’s remarkable mastery of the medium, which was to be the foundation of his later reputation. A vibrant pointilliste watercolour study of a tree by the Neo-Impressionist artist Henri-Edmond Cross shall be shown alongside a large Cubist portrait in watercolour by Georges Valmier which dates from the artist’s military service during the First World War, one of a very few works on paper from this early period.
Among the highlights of the 20th century section of the exhibition are a superb chalk drawing by Egon Schiele of his four-year old nephew, drawn in 1918 shortly before the artist’s death at the age of just 28, which has never before been exhibited or published. A very large seascape in watercolour and gouache by the Belgian artist Léon Spilliaert is a stunning example of this artist’s remarkable Symbolist draughtsmanship. Among British drawings of the period are a portrait drawing by John Minton, a study of feathers in tempera by Maxwell Armfield, a watercolour study of walking figures by L. S. Lowry - one of only about a dozen works in this medium by the artist, and done when he borrowed a set of watercolour paints from a friend’s daughter, to whom he later gave the drawing - and a still life by ,b>Ben Nicholson, executed in 1959 shortly after his move from St. Ives to Switzerland. The exhibition ends with two significant drawings of the late 1980’s by British artists. A large portrait drawing of the American author Philip Roth by the late R. B. Kitaj was retained by the artist in his own collection until his death in 2007. It will be shown alongside a rare drawing by Lucian Freud; a striking charcoal study of a reclining woman, drawn in 1989.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, fully illustrated in colour and available on request. For further information or images of any of the drawings, please contact Stephen Ongpin or Lara Agius at Tel. (0) 20 7930-8813, Fax (0) 20 7839-1504, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.