Drawings from the Ratjen collection acquired by the National Gallery in Washington


1. Giulio Romano (1499 ?-1546)
The Four Elements, c. 1530
Pen and brown ink
with brush and brown wash - 24.2 x 33.7 cm
Washington, National Gallery

31/8/08 — Acquisitions — Washington, National Gallery of Art — In late 2007, the museum enriched its holdings with an important set of drawings belonging to the Ratjen Foundation thus adding 66 sheets from the 16th to 18th century Italian school and 119 German, Austrian and Swiss works dating from 1580 to 1900, now making it the largest Germanic graphic collection in the United States.
Wolfgang Ratjen was born in 1943 in Berlin to a family of bankers who settled in Lichtenstein when he was still a child. Part of his Italian drawing collection came from the one belonging to the photographer Herbert List who died in 1975 but he continued to buy more, notably German drawings, having no qualms in selling off certain sheets to acquire other more important ones. After passing away in 1997, the works remained in Vaduz to be conserved by a foundation bearing his name who has now finally sold it to the National Gallery [1].

A complete list is provided by the museum’s website which, however, only reproduces a small number. An exhibition is planned as is a catalogue. We point out here the salient items :

Among the Italian drawings, there are [2] :

- Giulio Romano, The Four Elements (ill. 1). With a provenance from the Crozat et Mariette collections, this drawing represents the elements of Water, Fire, Earth and Air personified respectively by Diana, Apollo, Saturn and Boreas. No connection has been found to a known work by the artist.

2. Luca Penni (c. 1500-1557)
The Banquet of Acheloüs, 1540
Pen and brown ink with brown wash,
heightened with white gouache - 30.4 x 47.4 cm
Washington, National Gallery of Art



- Luca Penni, The Banquet of Acheloüs (ill. 2). This sheet was first published by Sylvie Beguin in the catalogue for the exhibition L’Ecole de Fontainebleau (Paris, 1972). She identified the probable subject, taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

3. Jacopo Ligozzi (c. 1500/1504-1556)
Christ before Herod
Pen and brown ink with brown wash,
heightened with white gouache - 46,9 x 37,4 cm
Washington, National Gallery of Art



- Jacopo Ligozzi, Christ before Herod (ill. 3). This drawing is perhaps part of a cycle devoted to the Passion of Christ. Other comparable examples can be found notably at the Albertina. Another Ligozzi, A Marmot, was acquired by Washington with the collection.

4. Baldassare Franceschini called il Volterrano (1611-1689)
Assumption of the Virgin,
1667-1610
Red chalk - 19.4 x 15.4 cm
Washington, National Gallery of Art



- Baldassare Franceschini, The Assumption of the Virgin (ill. 4). This is a study for the décor in the Santissima Annunziata in Florence. Volterrano’s very characteristic manner and virtuosity can be easily identified as he extracts a recognizable form from a entangled series of strokes. The collection includes another drawing by the artist (The Flight into Egypt).

5. Pietro da Cortona (1596-1669)
The Massacre
of the Innocents
, early 1630s
Pen and brown ink with brown and
blue-green wash, heightened with
white gouache -
26.1 x 36.5 cm
Washington, National Gallery of Art



- Pietro da Cortona, The Massacre of the Innocents (ill. 5). Although there is no known canvas on this subject by the artist, the drawing is connected to a painting by Giovanni Francesco Romanelli which came up for auction at Christie’s London on 9 July 1993. It is possible that the latter, who was in Pietro da Cortona’s workshop in the early 1630’s-probable date for this sheet-might have used it to compose his own work. The theme is frequent in Roman painting of that period and the composition recalls notably Poussin’s painting from the Petit Palais in Paris, produced a few years earlier.

6. Pier Francesco Mola (1612-1666)
The Angel Appearing at Hagar
and Ishmael
, 1656-1659
Pen and brown ink
with brown wash -
26.1 x 36.5 cm
Washington, National Gallery of Art



- Pier Francesco Mola, The Angel Appearing at Hagar and Ishmael (ill. 6). This sheet (and the back also, in red chalk) is preparatory to a painting held at the Galleria Colonna in Rome.

7. Gaspare Diziani (1689-1767)
The Sacrifice
of Isaac
, 1750-1755
Red chalk with pen
and brown ink, brown and gray wash, and
white gouache - 39.1 x 28.4 cm
Washington, National Gallery of Art



- Gaspare Diziani, The Sacrifice of Isaac (ill. 7). This drawing, in the artist’s characteristic style, has not been formally linked with a painted work, even if Diziani executed this subject at least twice.

8. Carlo Maratta (1625-1713)
Saint James
the Greater
, 1686-1687
Red and
white chalk
- 42 x 25.4 cm
Washington, National Gallery of Art


- Carlo Maratta, Saint James the Greater (ill. 8). This is a preparatory study for Madonna and Child with the Apostle Saint James the Greater and St Francis painted for the church Santa Maria di Montesanto in Rome.

9. Antonio Canal called Canaletto (1625-1713)
The Maundy Thursday Festival
before the Ducal Palace in Venice
, c. 1765
Pen and brown ink
with gray wash, heightened with
white gouache -
38.5 x 55.3 cm
Washington, National Gallery of Art


- Antonio Canal called Canaletto, The Maundy Thursday Festival before the Ducal Palace in Venice (ill. 9). This drawing is one in a series of twelve representing scenes from festivals in Venice, engraved by Giambattista Brustolon.

10. Ubaldo Gandolfi (1728 -1781)
The Immaculate Conception
Pen and brown ink with brown wash
over red chalk -
29.8 x 21.1 cm
Washington, National Gallery of Art



- Ubaldo Gandolfi, The Immaculate Conception (ill. 10). The drawing studies a painting formerly held in the church of the Convent of the Santo Spirito in Cingoli, today owned by the city. A drawing by Gaetano Gandolfi, Studies of Callisto is also part of the collection acquired by Washington.

Special notice should also go (the following is not an exhaustive list) to sheets by Federico Barocci, Pompeo Batoni (2), Ferdinando Galli Babiena, Guillaume Courtois, Stefano della Bella (2 drawings including The Fall of Phaeton), Aniello Falcone, Ciro Ferri, Francesco Fontebasso, Luca Giordano (2), Guercino, Benedetto Luti, Palma Il Giovane (3), Piranese (3), Giulio Cesare Procaccini, Matteo Rosselli, Ventura Salimbeni, Pellegrino Tibaldi (The Holy Family with the Infant John-Baptist), Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (two drawings one of which is front and back : Male Nude Seated on the Ground), Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo (2, of which one, The Présentation in the Temple, is part of the famous series of drawings for an illustrated Bible), Lorenzo Tiepolo, Giorgio Vasari, Francesco Zucarelli…

There are also some German drawings in the collection which is rich in 18th century Baroque works (Cosmas Damias Asam, Johann Wolfgang Baumgartner, Frantz Anton Maulbertsch, etc.), but we do not have any reproductions. Visitors who were particularly observant during the recent exhibition The Golden Age of German Romanticism at the Musée de la Vie Romantique (see article) will have noticed several sheets from the Ratjen collection on loan from the National Gallery [3].

11. Johann Rottenhammer (1564-1625)
Minerva and
the Muses

Watercolor over pen
and brown and gray ink
Washington, National Gallery of Art



- Johann Rottenhammer, Minerva and the Muses (ill. 11). The artist treated this subject at least once in a painting held in Nuremberg at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum. The canvas reveals the influence of Venetian painting still and the Mannerism of Sustris or Tintoretto. Although one finds the same elegance in the poses, the drawing, which dates from around 1610, reveals Rottenhammer’s evolution towards a greater Classicism.

12. Adam Elsheimer (1578-1610)
Ceres Changing Stellio Into a L
izard

Gouache
Washington, National Gallery of Art



- Adam Elsheimer, Ceres Changing Stellio Into a Lizard (ill. 12). The subject is taken from Ovid’s Metamorphosis. The Museo del Prado has a painting on copper by the artist representing the moment just before this when Stellio, a young child, makes fun of Ceres who will then transform him into a lizard.

13. Carl Blechen (1798-1840)
A Ruined Church in
the Forest by the Water
,
c. 1834-1835
Brown wash over
graphite with watercolor - 25 x 34.2 cm
Washington, National Gallery of Art
Photo : National Gallery of Art



- Carl Blechen, A Ruined Church in the Forest by the Water (ill. 13). This drawing which shows the influence of Dahl and Friedrich whose art left a strong impression on the artist, reminds us that Blechen also decorated theatre sets. These Gothic ruins could very well serve as a backdrop for a Romantic opera. Another Blechen drawing, David and Bathsheba was acquired along with the Ratjen collection.

14. Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840)
New Moon
above the Riesengebirge

Watercolor over
graphite - 26.2 x 36.4 cm
Washington, National Gallery of Art
Photo : National
Gallery of Art



- Caspar David Friedrich, New Moon above the Riesengebirge (ill. 14). This is an actual landscape which the painter illustrated in at least another example, at another time of the day, today in a private collection and included in the exhibition at the Musée de la Vie Romantique.

15. Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794-1872)
Ruth and Boas, 1824
Pen and brown ink - 21.7 x 25.8 cm
Washington, National Gallery of Art
Photo : National Gallery of Art



- Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, Ruth et Boas (ill. 15). This is a preliminary study for a plate of the Pictorial Bible, a set of 240 engravings which appeared between 1852 and 1860. This Nazarene artist also painted a canvas after this drawing, held at the National Gallery in London. Three other Schnorrs are in the Ratjen collection one of which represents dead leaves.

16. Moritz von Schwind (1804-1871)
The Apparition
in the Woods
, 1825
Pen and brown ink
with brown wash - 33.2 x 47 cm
Washington, National Gallery of Art
Photo : Engelbert Seehuber



Moritz von Schwind, Apparition in the Woods (ill. 16). The scene represented here has not been identified. It may have been made up by the artist, drawing on fantastic elements commonly found in the Romantic literature of the time.

17. Philippe Veit (1793-1877)
Germania, 1833
Watercolor over
graphite - 42.3 x 28.8 cm
Washington, National Gallery of Art
Photo : Engelbert Seehuber


Philippe Veit, Germania (ill. 17). This is a preliminary study for a mural for the building at the Städel Museum in Frankfurt commissioned from the artist (who was the director there) in 1832. The frescoes were taken from the wall in 1877 and transferred to canvas.

18. Adolf Menzel (1815-1905)
Emilie, 1851
Pastel and
black chalk
Washington, National Gallery of Art
Photo : National Gallery of Art


Adolf Menzel, Emilie (ill. 18). This is a portrait of the artist’s sister. The Ratjen collection includes four other sheets by Menzel.

The National Gallery is in fact skilled at acquiring groups of works, as for example the collection of American paintings and drawings (a promised gift) in 2004 (see news item of 11/5/04 on La Tribune de l’Art, in French, the 74 old master drawings from the Woodner collection donated in 2006 (see news item of 30/6/06 in French) and still more recently the Renaissance bronzes belonging to Robert H. Smith (see news item of 4/6/08). We will of course return shortly to touch upon the museum’s most recent acquisitions.

Version française


Didier Rykner, dimanche 31 août 2008


Notes

[1] The National Gallery already held three drawings from the Ratjen collection, acquired in 1998 and 2000.

[2] Several exhibitions have been devoted to the Italian drawings in the Ratjen collection in the past, notably in 1977-1978 in Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Dusseldorf and Stuttgart (Stiftung Ratjen ; Italianische Zeichnungen des 16.-18. Jahrhunderts) and at the Frick Collection in 1996-1997 (Italian drawings from the Ratjen Foundation, Vaduz). We took some of the information in this article from the catalogue of this last exhibition (by David Lachenmann).

[3] Under the supervision of Hinrich Sieveking, L’Age d’or du romantisme allemande. Aquarelles et dessins à l’époque de Goethe, Paris, 2008. Some of the elements in this news item are taken from the catalogue entries.



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