In spring 2013, The Frick Collection will present approximately sixty prints and drawings from the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, renowned for its rich holdings in nineteenth-century French art. The works were selected by Colin B. Bailey, Deputy Director and Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator, Susan Grace Galassi, Senior Curator at the Frick, and Jay A. Clarke, Manton Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs at the Clark. The selection focuses on several artistic visionaries of the nineteenth century, including Courbet, Manet, Monet, Degas, Gauguin, and Toulouse-Lautrec. Nearly half of the sheets in the exhibition were acquired by Sterling and Francine Clark, who were avid collectors of Impressionism, while others have entered the Clark since its opening in 1955. The prints and drawings will be shown at the Frick as part of the Clark's commitment to global outreach through cultural exchange, organized at the same moment when 72 of the Clark's great French paintings are on an international tour in Europe, North America, and Asia. This exhibition at the Frick marks the first time that the Clark's nineteenth-century French works on paper have been the focus of a loan show.
Important examples of the Realist and Impressionist schools dominate the exhibition. A group of prints by Édouard Manet, including his iconic Execution of Maximilian (1868), highlights the artist's virtuosic approach to etching and lithography. Thirteen sheets by his contemporary Edgar Degas, one of the founders of Impressionism, present the full range of his draftsmanship — from early, academic studies to his daring nudes of the 1890s. Sheets by fellow Impressionists Berthe Morisot, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Camille Pissarro speak to the experimental, and often divergent, approaches to drawing and printmaking in the third quarter of the nineteenth century. A selection of works by post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin includes four prints on vibrant yellow paper from the Volpini Suite (1889). The artist's color woodcuts present flattened, nearly abstract forms inspired by his first trip to Tahiti in 1891. Gauguin's virtuosic approach to line is echoed in Paul Cézanne's Bathers (1898), a luminous color lithograph depicting male figures in a sylvan landscape. The exhibition culminates with an ensemble of eleven works by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, including three images from his famous Elles portfolio (1896), a series of lithographic images of prostitutes. Other works by Toulouse-Lautrec present the glittering world of modern Parisian amusement, from acrobats at the Cirque Fernando to the dancer Loie Fuller represented in her glittering, swirling costume.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a full-color catalogue, the first devoted to this important collection. Informative texts will investigate the world of prints and drawings at this pivotal moment in nineteenth-century French visual culture, and the virtuosic line that stretches from Daumier to Toulouse-Lautrec will be considered anew.
The catalogue authors are Mary Weaver Chapin, Portland Art Museum; Jay A. Clarke, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute; Anne Higonnet, Columbia University; Richard Kendall, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, and Alistair Wright, St. John's College, Oxford.