The Essence of Line

French Drawings from Ingres to Degas

Edited by Jay Fisher, William Johnston, Cheryl Snay, Kim Schenk

Paperback - £41.95

Publication date:

15 July 2005

Length of book:

408 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271026923

Many patrons of the arts in nineteenth-century America built collections of paintings and sculpture imported primarily from England or Italy. Collectors in Baltimore—William Walters, George Lucas, the famous Cone sisters, among others—stand out in this milieu for having developed a strikingly different aesthetic for their homes and newly founded public institutions. These collectors looked to France for models of culture and, acting upon a remarkable understanding of the educational needs and working methods of artists, assembled extensive collections of drawings by French masters, from David to Daumier, Degas, and Cézanne.

The Essence of Line offers the first comprehensive discussion of the formation of these collections and their significance for the history of French art. The book begins with essays by Jay M. Fisher, William R. Johnston, and Cheryl K. Snay that trace the history of collecting in Baltimore and afford new insights into the acquisition, display, and interpretation of drawings. In her essay, conservator Kimberly Schenck bridges the worlds of the collector and of the artist by examining the production and the use of drawing materials in an epoch of radical changes as much in technique as style. This book also provides a fully illustrated, scholarly catalogue for one hundred of the most important of the nineteenth-century French drawings now held by The Baltimore Museum of Art, The Walters Art Museum, and the Peabody Art Collection.

Published on the occasion of an exhibition jointly organized by The Baltimore Museum of Art and The Walters Art Museum, this book presents a brilliant panorama of sketches, watercolors, and presentation drawings, many of them little known outside a small circle of experts. It is correlated with an online archive of the entire corpus of nineteenth-century French drawings in the holdings of these Baltimore museums.

This volume has been published in conjunction with the exhibition The Essence of Line: French Drawings from Ingres to Degas, organized by The Baltimore Museum of Art and the Walter Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland, and held at:

The Baltimore Museum of Art, 19 June–11 September 2005

The Walters Art Museum 19 June–4 September 2005

Birmingham Museum of Art, 19 February–14 May 2006

Tacoma Art Museum, 9 June–17 September 2006.

“Very full and solid, this work will be a valuable contribution to nineteenth-century studies and an essential reference for art libraries.”

—Colta Ives, Curator, The Metropolitan Museum of Art