“Italian Drawings from the Mariette Collection” at Louvre Museum

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Pierre Jean Mariette brought together a fascinating collection, especially consisting of drawings, with around 9,600 sheets. Masterworks by greats stood alongside bravura pieces by small artists, in line with Mariette’s encyclopedic commitment in his bid to sum up the history of the drawing art form, from its early stages through the modern. Following on from the 2011 publication by Pierre Rosenberg of the first volumes dedicated to drawings from the collection of Mariette, the publication of the catalog raisonné of drawings by Italians similarly accompanies this exposition of some 100 of the most extraordinary Mariette sheets.

Besides someone who printed things, Pierre Jean Mariette was also a draughtsman, art critic, translator, letter writer, and a great drawing collector. Mariette sought to make a universal collection, but he had an obvious preference for Italy, something which a letter he wrote to the author cum architect Tommaso Temanza illustrates.

“Those who, like me, give preference to the works of the Italian masters over those of the painters produced by the Netherlands, are few and far between (…). This does not prevent me from pursuing my tastes, and it is no exaggeration to tell you that my collection, created in this spirit, is perhaps the most complete and well selected that exists in Europe.”

Above are the excerpts from the letter from 1796.

The part of the collection which gave its author the greatest sense of pride and pleasure is thus featured in the exhibition, which has already started on June 27, 2019.

“Italian Drawings from the Mariette Collection”

The exhibition will run through to the end of September 30, 2019. Those on Louvre Museum private tours will be able to see works by some of the greatest-ever Italian artists, including Michelangelo, Raphael, Veronese, Titian, Guido Reni, Guercino, and Carracci. These works are taken from many Parisian collections, mainly from that of the former royal palace turned museum.

The Musée du Louvre notes, “Following a brief overview of Pierre Jean Mariette and the legendary nature of his collection, visitors are invited to follow in the footsteps of his journey in Italy, undertaken at the age of 23, and which was, for him, an extraordinary “school of seeing”.”

The exhibition is organized by Pierre Rosenberg, the President and Director of the Louvre Museum, and Victor Hundsbuckler, the Curator of its “Prints and Drawings” department, with the cooperation of Marie-Liesse Delcroix and Laure Barthélemy-Labeeuw from Association Mariette.