Rembrandt Study day Drawings at the Courtauld

Bartolomé Estaban Murillo, Christ carrying the Cross, 17th century, detail
Bartolomé Estaban Murillo, Christ carrying the Cross, 17th century, detail
Last spring, 18 drawings by Rembrandt van Rijn and his workshop, all from The Courtauld, were on view in the Gallery. These same drawings became the subject of a Rembrandt Study Day in late June, organised by the Research Forum and held in the Institute’s recently refurbished Study Room for drawings and prints. The focus of the day was the controversial question of attribution, which had also been raised in the display itself. This problem has led to a considerable diminution of Rembrandt’s drawn oeuvre. The problem of attribution arises as Rembrandt headed a large workshop in the 1630s and 1640s. No fewer than 50 pupils are documented by name, and others remain anonymous. All aimed to imitate the famous artist’s style. In the workshop, drawing functioned as a means of communication, as pupils based their studies on Rembrandt’s models and the master guided their work.

Holm Bevers (Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett), Martin Royalton-Kisch (London, British Museum) and Peter Schatborn (formerly Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinett), three leading Rembrandt experts and all authors of catalogues of some of the world’s most important collections of Rembrandt drawings, were invited to discuss the approximately 30 works from The Courtauld, all part of the Princes Gates bequest, with a group of around 25 international participants, including curators, academics and dealers as well as PhD students from the Institute. The workshop raised specific questions regarding Rembrandt as a draughtsman and also raised awareness of the more general practice of connoisseurship-based attributions in the field. While some agreement was reached, concluding that several of the drawings formerly published as by Rembrandt are in fact works by pupils, another result was as important – the astonishingly high quality of the Courtauld Rembrandt drawings as a whole group, which will be the subject of continuous study, stimulated by the display and the study day. We hope that these drawings study days will become a regular feature in the annual calendar.
Stephanie Buck, Curator of Drawings
Stephanie Porras, PhD student


A Catalogue of the Spanish Drawings

The Courtauld Gallery holds an important collection of over 120 Spanish drawings. This collection is the subject of The Courtauld’s first scholarly catalogue of a national school of drawings in a project funded by the Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica in Madrid. We are delighted that the new catalogue will be compiled by Dr Zahira Véliz, an alumna of The Courtauld. The research phase of the project will start in October and is due to last approximately two years.

The collection of Spanish drawings at The Courtauld includes work by Ribera, Alonso Cano, Murillo and Goya in addition to other figures whose work is important in assembling a full picture of the complexity of Spanish art. The study and attribution of the significant body of Spanish drawings held in collections internationally is a vital part of this task. The Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica (CEEH) has been an important force in enabling and energising such research. In addition to its work with The Courtauld it is supporting cataloguing projects at the Princeton University Art Museum and the Kunsthalle in Hamburg. The CEEH is also leading a major collaborative research project on the legacy of the hispanist and collector Sir William Stirling Maxwell (1818-78). Many of The Courtauld’s drawings, which came to us through Sir Robert Witt, were once owned by Stirling Maxwell and we hope to be able to contribute fully to research on this pioneering figure.

Ernst Vegelin van Claerbergen
Head of The Courtauld Gallery


‘the bar’ comes home

Edouard Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, 1882, detail
Edouard Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, 1882, detail
A Bar at the Folies-Bergère has returned home from Los Angeles after its sojourn at the J. Paul Getty Museum (5 June - 9 September). It was the painting’s first visit to the West Coast of America, and its first trip to the United States since the highlights tour of 1987-8. In the past decade ‘The Bar’ has been seen in several different temporary contexts, including magnificently arranged opposite Le Déjeuner in our own Manet Face to Face, and subsequently in Madrid as part of the important exhibition Manet en el Prado. The Getty curators chose to hang Manet’s masterpiece in a room by itself, accompanied only by gallery texts and a framed mirror which served to dramatise the composition. The result was extremely impressive and the great presence of Manet’s work ensured that it commanded the room effortlessly. The isolated display also had the powerful effect of reminding visitors of the rewards of looking in detail and in an unhurried fashion at a single outstanding work of art. It was always Samuel Courtauld’s intention that the works which he bequeathed to The Courtauld be enjoyed by a wide audience who might share his enthusiasm for and intuitive understanding of modern French painting. He would, I am sure, have been delighted to learn that 186,817 visitors had enjoyed one of the highlights of his collection in the unrivalled hill-top setting of the Getty Center.

The display was accompanied by a number of educational events, including gallery talks, a curator-led course and a lecture by Professor John House called Manet Viewing/Viewing Manet. The exhibition Defining Modernity: European Drawings 1800-1900 was on show in an adjacent Gallery and here too The Courtauld Gallery had a powerful presence, with the loan of six major 19th-century drawings. A delegation from The Courtauld visited Los Angeles during the final week of the exhibition. A reception generously hosted by the Getty provided a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the long-standing relationship between our two institutions.

Ernst Vegelin van Claerbergen
Head of the Courtauld Gallery



Courtauld Gallery Masterpieces

The Courtauld Gallery is proud to announce that a brand-new guide to the collection, Courtauld Gallery Masterpieces, is now available in the shop at a list price of £9.95. The 128-page volume features a comprehensive introduction by Head of The Courtauld Gallery, Dr Ernst Vegelin van Claerbergen. Full-colour images of highlights from the collection, spanning over eight centuries and including, for the first time, paintings, prints, drawings, and decorative arts, are accompanied by insightful catalogue entries written by members of The Courtauld’s own teaching and curatorial staff.