Fondation Custodia

Nineteenth-century French Drawings

from 8 October 2022 to 8 January 2023

In the autumn of 2022, the Fondation Custodia will present an anthology of 19th century French drawings from its collections. This exhibition will feature works by major artists of French art (Ingres, Delacroix, Corot, Rosa Bonheur) and will also showcase talents that were famous in their time, but are somewhat forgotten today (Achille Benouville, Eugène Buttura, Lionel Le Couteux) or completely unknown (Caroline Defontenay, Charles Eustache).

Jean-François Millet (1814–1875), Young Gleaner, between 1851 and 1853
Black conté crayon, 310 × 155 mm
Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris, inv. 3018

Although the 19th century collection initiated by Frits Lugt (1884-1970) was at first made up of significant individual sheets (Millet’s Young Gleaner, Ribot’s Portrait of Victor Hugo on his Deathbed), the Fondation Custodia then set about developing it along several lines.

In particular, it focused on landscapes and thus brought together some remarkable ensembles of drawings made from nature in Italy or France (Achille-Etna Michallon, François Marius Granet, Louis Français, Louis Cabat). Some sheets bear witness to the naturalist studies of the Barbizon school (the spectacular Chêne de la Reine Blanche by Rousseau!), or to the more classical ones of mid-century painters (Jean Pierre Monseret, Théophile Chauvel). This group includes some outstanding compositions by Alphonse Legros and Jean-Baptiste Clésinger. The Fondation Custodia has also favoured direct recordings of nature by watercolourists, as well as artists such as Eugène Isabey and Johan Barthold Jongkind. It has acquired some striking portraits (Antoine Berjon, Ingres, Louis Lamothe, Charles Milcendeau) and studies for famous compositions (Gérôme).

They will be presented chronologically, highlighting in turn the importance of natural observation at the beginning of the century (Michel Mandevare, Jean Antoine Constantin), the variety of techniques, the romantic spirit, the realism of the Parisian scene (Auguste Péquénot, Gabriel Prieur), the freshness of tones of the watercolourists (Paul Huet, Henri Harpignies), the inventiveness and poetry of the artists of the middle of the century (Gavarni, Doré) and the lyrical impressions of the most modern (Pierre Prins, Auguste Cabuzel).

Gustave Doré (1832–1883), View of the Forest at Westbridge, 1879
Watercolour and gouache over graphite, 744 × 625 mm
Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris, inv. 1987-T.9

For many visitors, it will be a rediscovery of 19th century draughtsmen whose names have faded over time.

Nearly 150 works on display, chosen from the 1800 or so sheets in the Fondation Custodia’s 19th century holdings (including sketchbooks), will reflect the high quality of this collection, which is eclectic and coherent, and reflects the tastes of its founder.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a printed catalogue and an online database of all the French drawings from the 19th century.

It will be presented at the same time as the retrospective on Léon Bonvin (1834-1866). Drawn to the everyday.