Guercino: Virtuoso Draftsman

October 4, 2019 through February 2, 2020

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, known as Guercino (1591–1666), was arguably the most interesting and diverse draftsman of the Italian Baroque era, a natural virtuoso who created brilliant drawings in a broad range of media. The Morgan owns more than twenty-five works by the artist, and these are the subject of a focused exhibition, supplemented by a handful of loans from public and private New York collections, to be held at the Morgan in the autumn of 2019. The exhibition will include sheets from all moments of the artist’s career. His early awareness of the work of the Carracci in Bologna is documented by figures drawn from everyday life as well as brilliant caricatures; two drawings for Guercino’s own drawing manual are further testament to his interest in questions of academic practice. Following his career, a range of preparatory drawings includes studies made in connection with his earliest altarpieces as well as his mature masterpieces, including multiple studies for several projects, allowing the visitor to see Guercino’s mind at work as he reconsidered his ideas. The Morgan’s holdings also include studies for engravings, as well as highly finished landscape and figure drawings that were independent works. While some of the Morgan’s Guercino drawings are well known, they have never been exhibited or published as a group, and the selection includes a number of new acquisitions. 

Guercino: Virtuoso Draftsman continues a series of exhibitions focused on highlights from the Morgan’s collection. An accompanying catalogue will be written by the exhibition's curator, John Marciari, the Charles W. Engelhard Curator and Head of the Department of Drawings and Prints at the Morgan. It will include an introductory essay on Guercino’s work as a draftsman followed by entries on the Guercino drawings in the Morgan’s collection. Like the previous exhibitions in this series (Power and Grace: Drawings by Rubens, Van Dyck, and Jordaens and Thomas Gainsborough: Experiments in Drawing), the catalogue will be published by Paul Holberton.

The exhibition is made possible with generous support from the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust.

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called Il Guercino (1591–1666), Vision of St. Philip Neri, 1646–47, pen and brown ink, with brown wash. The Morgan Library & Museum, gift of János Scholz, 1977.49.


Selected images