Secret Life of Drawings

Posted in Behind the Scenes, Conservation, Exhibitions and Installations, J. Paul Getty Museum, Prints and Drawings

Drawing the Line: Conserving Master Drawings with a Light Touch

Working on Study of Three Skulls. At top left, the disfiguring oil stain; at top right, the same area of the sheet after the pastel application.
Working on Study of Three Skulls. At top left, the disfiguring oil stain; at top right, the same area of the sheet after the pastel application.

The intriguing exhibition The Secret Life of Drawings—closing this Sunday at the Getty Center—unveils hidden clues to unfinished works on paper, undiscovered sketches, and details of the artist’s craft. It also reveals that making damaged art look presentable can be… More»

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      #ProvenancePeek: July 31

      Every art object has a story—not only of how it was made, but of how it changed hands over time until it found its current home. That story is provenance.

      This small panel by Dutch master Gerrit Dou (photographed only in black and white) is now in the collection of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. It was sold to American collector Robert Sterling Clark, an heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune, in the summer of 1922.

      How do we know this? Archival sleuthing! A peek into the handwritten stock books of M. Knoedler & Co. (book 7, page 10, row 40, to be exact) records the Dou in “July 1922” (right page, margin). Turning to the sales books, which lists dates and prices, we again find the painting under the heading “New York July 1922,” with its inventory number 14892. A tiny “31” in superscript above Clark’s name indicates the date the sale was recorded.

      M. Knoedler was one of the most influential dealers in the history of art, selling European paintings to collectors whose collections formed the genesis of great U.S. museums. The Knoedler stock books have recently been digitized and transformed into a searchable database, which anyone can query for free.

      Girl at a Window, 1623–75, Gerrit Dou. Oil on panel, 10 9/16 x 7 ½ in. Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts


      #ProvenancePeek is a monthly series by research assistant Kelly Davis peeking into #onthisday provenance finds from the M. Knoedler & Co. archives at the Getty Research Institute.

      07/31/15

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