From the City of Lights, The Louvre Lands in the Big Apple


© RMN / Jean-Gilles Berizzi

“David, Delacroix and Revolutionary France: Drawings from the Louvre,” examines the French artists’ earliest sketch drawings. (Courtesy of the Morgan Library and Museum)


“David, Delacroix and Revolutionary France: Drawings from the Louvre,” examines the French artists’ earliest sketch drawings. (Courtesy of the Morgan Library and Museum)

They have the Eiffel Tower and escargot.  We have the Empire State Building and hot dog carts.  It seems like Paris and New York couldn’t be any more different.  Sure they are  two of the most renown metropolises in the world, but each city is known to have its own distinct attitude and lifestyle.  However, there is an aspect of culture for which New Yorkers and Parisians have the same high regards: art.

Thousands of people visit the Louvre every year, spending expensive amounts of money on plane tickets and unfashionable tourist programs. New Yorkers now have the privilege of viewing the Parisian museum’s drawings without going through this hassle. The Morgan Museum and Library’s newest exhibit, “David, Delacroix and Revolutionary France: Drawings from the Louvre” brings a taste of Paris to the Big Apple.

“I think that there are a lot of Francophiles here in New York that are particularly going to be drawn to this exhibit,” Jennifer Tonkovich, curator of the exhibit, said.  “This is just a great opportunity for people to see the most accomplished and finest drawings from the period,” she said.

Tonkovich has high hopes that the exhibit will draw a large audience of regulars as well as new visitors—including students—despite the intimidating upscale ambience of the museum, which features high ceilings, its own personal dining room, decadent library and lavish rotunda. Additionally, for those who are not familiar with this type of art, visiting this exhibit may be the perfect opportunity to be exposed to it.

It’s interesting how the Morgan got its hands on these drawings.  “In 1993 we sent the Louvre an exhibition of our drawings,” Tonkovich said. “They had always meant to give us some pieces in return so we figured now was as good a time as ever.”

The exhibit features classics like David’s “The Sabine Women Intervening to Stop the Fight Between the Romans and Sabines,” and a rough sketch of Delacroix’s “Liberty Leading the People.” These sketches of famous historical paintings are sure to appeal to any art history enthusiast.

Some of the lesser-known drawings may also be of interest for those who are familiar with artwork of the French Revolution era. These paintings are concealed in the shadow of works by more household names such as Leonardo, David and Michelangelo.  Gericault’s “The Artist’s Left Hand” is a detailed sketch of the artist’s own left hand that he drew on his deathbed.  Meanwhile Pierre-Paul Prud’hon’s “Standing Female Nude Resting her Arms on a Branch” is a stunning example of the naturalistic and sensual portrayal of the female figure that would later inspire the impressionists such as Manet and Renoir.

Other noteworthy works featured in this exhibit include Gericault’s “Study of Cats,” a series of cat drawings inspired by his interest in the animal, and Jean-Honore Fragonard’s “The Trapped Lovers,” a narrative featuring two lovers cemented together into a wall.

The upscale ambiance of the museum is enhanced by the violinists that are often playing in the main marble lobby before diners in business attire. Needless to say, students that are new to the city may feel a little out of place in this museum.

Despite the museum’s haughtiness, “Drawings from the Louvre” will have you saying “oui, oui” instead of “no, no.”

“David, Delacroix, and Revolutionary France”
When: Until Dec. 31, 2011
Where: Morgan Museum and Library, 225 Madison Ave. at 36th St.
Price: $10 for students, $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and free admission on Fridays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
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