Pierre-Jean Mariette and the Art of Collecting Drawings

January 22 through May 1, 2016

During his lifetime Pierre-Jean Mariette (1694–1774) assembled one of history’s finest and most renowned collections of drawings. He amassed over nine thousand sheets that were dispersed after his death, and today works from his collection are found in museums and private collections around the world, many of them still in Mariette’s distinctive blue mounts. Despite his importance as a collector and connoisseur, he has never before been the subject of an exhibition in the United States.

Pierre-Jean Mariette and the Art of Collecting Drawings explores the eighteenth-century collector’s pivotal role in shaping our modern view of the old masters and provides a rare opportunity to consider the particular ways in which Mariette studied, mounted, altered, restored, and displayed the drawings in his collection. Through the examination of his methods, the exhibition highlights practices of collecting that persist even today.

The heir to a well-established dynasty of printmakers, publishers, and print dealers from Paris, Mariette formed a collection that included drawings both by old masters and by contemporary artists such as the Italian painters Sebastiano Ricci (1659-1734) and Giovanni Paolo Panini (1691/92–1765). The collection was encyclopedic in scope and included masterpieces and works by little known artists. This exhibition presents a selection of some twenty drawings representative of Mariette’s holdings. The works on view come primarily from the Morgan’s own collections, but the exhibition also includes sheets from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Princeton University Art Museum, and private collections. Among the artists represented are masters such as Parmigianino (1503–1540), Annibale Carracci (1560–1609), Guercino (1591–1666), Salvator Rosa (1615­–1673), and Sébastien Bourdon (1616–1671).

This exhibition builds on the recent research into Mariette as a collector undertaken by Pierre Rosenberg de l’Académie française and the Association Mariette, Paris; Kristel Smentek, Associate Professor of Art History, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge; and the Société Frits Lugt pour l’Étude des Marques de Collections, Fondation Custodia, Paris.

This exhibition is a program of the Drawing Institute at the Morgan Library & Museum. Additional support is provided by Lowell Libson, Ltd.

Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola, called Il Parmigianino (Parma 1503–1540 Casalmaggiore), Man Standing Beside a Plinth on which He Rests a Book, and a Study of Saint Luke, ca. 1530, Pen and brown ink, brown wash, on paper. Purchased by Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913) in 1909. The Morgan Library & Museum.