The Department of Drawings and Prints boasts more than one million drawings, prints, and illustrated books made in Europe and the Americas from around 1400 to the present day. Because of their number and sensitivity to light, the works can only be exhibited for a limited period and are usually housed in on-site storage facilities. To highlight the vast range of works on paper, the department organizes four rotations a year in the Robert Wood Johnson, Jr. Gallery. Each installation is the product of a collaboration among curators and consists of up to 100 objects grouped by artist, technique, style, period, or subject.
The current installation explores the pursuit of tonal gradation and contrast in works varying from the completely monochrome to the brightly colored. A selection of drawings on prepared and dyed papers, ranging from Renaissance masterworks by Wolf Huber and Peter Candid to dazzling sheets by eighteenth- and nineteenth-century artists like Angelica Kauffman and Alphonse Legros, demonstrates the versatility of colored grounds for studies and for finished compositions.
Image: Detail from A Pond with a Fisherman along the River Ain, Adolphe Appian (French, Lyon 1818–1898 Lyon), 1868–70 / courtesy of The Met