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Lines of Beauty: Chatsworth Master Drawings head to The Lightbox

pencil portrait of a woman with braided hair

Alessandro Bonvicino, called Moretto da Brescia, A woman’s head with braided hair, 16th century. © The Devonshire Collections Reproduced by kind permission of Chatsworth Settlement Trustees

Another chance to see the remarkable and rarely seen master drawings of the Chatsworth Collection

Chatsworth’s world-class collection of old master drawings is said to be second only to the Queen’s in its remarkable scope and quality.

Amassed by the 1st, 2nd and 3rd successive Dukes of Devonshire during 1600s and 1700s, it comprises around 1,800 works by some of the most important artists of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.

Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Poussin, Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyck are just some of the names in the collection, which over 300 years ago would have been seen only by the social elites of the time. Today, a small selection of them is displayed on rotation in the purpose-built Old Master Drawings Cabinet created in 2012 at Chatsworth.

Opportunities to see them en masse however remain limited due to the need to safeguard the delicate works on paper from light damage.

watercolour of fields and distant trees and shrubs under a clouded sky

Sir Anthony van Dyck, An English landscape of meadows and wooded hills, with a square tower in the distance, 17th Century. © The Devonshire Collections Reproduced by kind permission of Chatsworth Settlement Trustees

pencil sketch of alrge man in a dressing gown seated at a table

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, an actor, William Ruyter, in his dressing room, circa 1638. © The Devonshire Collections Reproduced by kind permission of Chatsworth Settlement Trustees

sketch of women being attacked by armed men in classical setting with

Nicolas Poussin, The Rape of the Sabines, circa 1633. © The Devonshire Collections Reproduced by kind permission of Chatsworth Settlement Trustees

So this exhibition, which is a partnership between Chatsworth, The Lightbox and Sheffield Museums (and also the largest display of these rare artworks in more than 20 years) offers a valuable opportunity to experience the vibrancy and emotional power of the works up close.

Visitors to the Lightbox will see 64 drawings from the Devonshire Collections including works by the most critically acclaimed painter of the Dutch Golden Age, Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669).

They include his pen and ink drawing, An actor, William Ruyter, in his studio (circa 1638) dressing for the part of Bishop Gozewijn in Joost van den Vondel’s famous tragedy, Gijsbrecht van Amstel.

Rembrandt is known to have been in touch with Vondel, and scholars think he may have attended rehearsals and visited actors in their dressing rooms in the 1630s.

Several vibrant portraits of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries can be enjoyed; among them Federico Zuccaro’s, Head and shoulders of a bearded man (which is thought to be a self portrait of the Italian artist who famously sketched Elizabeth I) and Annibale Carracci’s, Portrait of a youth, which is a disarmingly direct study by an artist renowned for his Baroque paintings and frescoes, but who was also drawn to character studies and caricatures.

side profile colour pencil portrait of a bearded man with a cap

Federico Zuccaro, Head and shoulders of a bearded man wearing a cap, possibly a self-portrait, 16th–17th Century. © The Devonshire Collections Reproduced by kind permission of Chatsworth Settlement Trustees

fine pencil drawing of a classical scene in which men and soldiers on horseback approach a man seated on a throne before Greek style classical building

Giuseppe Porta, called Salviati. The legend of the seven kings paying homage to a pope, early 1560s. © The Devonshire Collections Reproduced by kind permission of Chatsworth Settlement Trustees

pencil portrait of a boy wearing a cap

Annibale Carracci, Portrait of a youth, 16th century. © The Devonshire Collections Reproduced by kind permission of Chatsworth Settlement Trustees

One of the most beautiful portraits also dates to the Italian Renaissance and Alessandro Bonvicino, (who was more commonly known as Moretto da Brescia), whose A woman’s head with braided hair, is a extremely rare example of a surviving drawing by an artist whose themes embraced landscape, genre scenes, altar pieces and portraits.

There are also drawings in pen and ink with chalk and watercolour by one of the most prominent Flemish painters of the 17th century, Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641) who famously painted for King Charles I.

But rather than royal portraiture, here visitors can see Van Dyck’s take on the English countryside via a gentle watercolour of meadows and wooded hills, with a square tower in the distance.

Nicolas Poussin’s (1594–1665) The Rape of the Sabines (circa 1633), is a preparatory drawing depicting the story from Roman mythology, and is just one of many opportunities to delve into classical myths and the workings of the master artists who interpreted them.

Poussin’s two paintings of the subject are held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the Louvre, Paris.
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drawing of a man with his leg raised against a wall

Lodovico Carracci, Man pulling on a rope, his left leg rehearsed a second time, circa 1587. © The Devonshire Collections Reproduced by kind permission of Chatsworth Settlement Trustees

drawing of two cherubs and a woman

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called il Guercino Venus scolding Cupid, while an older cupid binds him to a tree, 17th Century. © The Devonshire Collections Reproduced by kind permission of Chatsworth Settlement Trustees

charcoal drawing of a reclining man in robes and armour

Sebastiano del Piombo, A reclining apostle, circa 1516. © The Devonshire Collections Reproduced by kind permission of Chatsworth Settlement Trustees

colour sketch of a landscape with trees, two reclining women in the foreground and a shepherd leaning on a stick overseeing a flock of goats in the distance

Claude Lorrain, Wooded landscape with Diana and Callisto, circa 1665.© The Devonshire Collections Reproduced by kind permission of Chatsworth Settlement Trustees

For its run at the Millennium Galleries in Sheffield this absorbing show of drawings attracted thousands of visitors. Its final run is a rare chance to examine seldom seen and light susceptible masterpieces up close – just like the art-loving aristocracy of yore.

Lines of Beauty: Master Drawings from Chatsworth opens at the Lightbox Woking on 21 August 2021 and continues to 5 December 2021. Entry to the Lightbox costs £7.50 for a day pass.

venue

The Lightbox

Woking, Surrey

If you’re passionate about art and history, want to participate in activities and fun events like poetry open mic or comedy nights, or would just like somewhere quiet to relax, you’ll find it all at The Lightbox, where we believe that art has the power to make you feel good.…

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