17TH-CENTURY ITALIAN DRAWINGS
Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest 2004
English, 348 pp., 512 b&w. and col. ills.
ISBN 963 7441 96 4
The Department of Prints and Drawings is the largest of the collections of the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts in numerical terms, and the collection of old master drawings represents almost all the major artists and schools of European art, the Italian school being one of the most comprehensive and most valuable of all.
The proportion of the different regional schools in the museum's 17th century Italian material reflects the art historical significance of the different regions in Italy of the time, and naturally also reflects the taste and knowledge of former collectors, who contributed to the creation of this collection. The drawings – be they autonomous works or preparatory for paintings, frescoes or prints – can very well illustrate the main streams of art as well as the nature of the subject matter of this century, dominated by biblical and mithological themes. The Emilian school – and within it mainly the Bolognese – prevails with more than the half of the material overall. The Budapest Museum preserves several compositional and figure studies for the famous works of the three Carracci, Annibale, Agostino and Lodocivo, who are regarded as the pioneers of Barock art, and also has a large group of the sheets with various subjects by one of the most brilliant draughtsman of the century, Guercino. Second in number is the Roman school in the collection. In the latter group the drawings by the leading master of late Barock classicism, Carlo Maratta and his followers signify the highlights. The Tuscan – mainly Florentine – group is the third, with Cigoli at the head, while Lombard (Milanese), Neapolitan, Genoese and Venetian schools are less well represented numerically. Among the latter the colourful oilskethes by the Genoese Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, the vigorous and powerful pen drawings by the Milanese Daniele Crespi, and the Neapolitan Salvator Rosa's compositional drawings of vehement crative character give the greatest esthetic experience.
The majority of the 17th century Italian drawings – more, than 200 pieces, which means almost two thirds of this group – derives from the Esterházy collection, purchased by the Hungarian State in 1870 from a descendent of the main collector of the family, Prince Nicholas Esterházy (1765 –1833). Through individual purchases from art dealers as well as acquiring whole collections Prince Nicholas assembled a historically balanced collection of drawings largely during the first three decades of the 19th century. Several pieces originated from well known earlier collections, such as that of Antonio Cesare Poggi (1744 – 1836), Italian painter, engraver, and editor acting mostly in London and Paris, or Paulus von Praun (1548 – 1616), Nuremberg silk manufacturer and merchant, who had business interests in Bologna, and whose collection was still intact in the eighteenth century. A significant addition to the Budapest collection of 17th century Italian drawings was the bequest of Stephan Delhaes (1843 – 1901), painter in Vienna and restorer to the Liechtenstein princes. The collection was later completed by gifts and purchases through the activity of the curators of the museum, mainly in the first decades of the twentieth century, but occasionally also more recently.
The present volume contains introductory essays on the history of the collection, on research-work in connection with it, and entries for 358 drawings, organized alphabetically by artists, and accompanied by c. 510 illustrations, a hundred of them in colour. The indexes give cumulative information on artists here represented, on subjects, on former owners of the drawings, and on the scientific achievements of the author, among them a great number of new attributions, that is, new identification of the masters of these drawings.
Andrea Czére is Keeper of Prints and Drawings in the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts. She received her diplom and her Ph.D. at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. She is honorary member of the Accademia Clementina of Bologna since 1992, and was given the Doctor's Degree of the HungarianAcademy of Sciences in 2001. She published several articles on Italian drawings, mainly in the Bulletin du Musée Hongrois des Beaux-Arts, Master Drawings, Storia dell'Arte, and Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen. She is author of Disegni di artisti bolognesi nel Museo delle Belle Arti di Budapest, catalogue of an exhibition in Bologna, Stuttgart and Budapest in 1989-1990. She published Italienische Barockzeichnungen, a volume on selected Italian drawings of the BudapestMuseum in 1990, and L'Eredità Esterházy. Disegni italiani del Seicento dal Museo di Belle Arti di Budapest, catalogue of an exhibition in Rome in 2002.
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