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French master drawings are part of an exhibit at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art.

Nineteenth century French drawings from the National Gallery of Art on view at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
BY RICK ROGERS Published: June 3, 2012

— Their names read like a Who's Who of the European art world: Degas, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Delacroix, Cezanne and Gauguin. Their paintings grace the walls of the world's most famous art museums.

Yet far less known are their drawings, some of which were sketches created in preparation for new paintings. Others were miniature masterpieces that bear the unmistakable characteristics of the artists' mature works.

In an unprecedented partnership between the National Gallery of Art and the University of Oklahoma, 30 drawings and watercolors by some of the great French masters of the 19th century are part of an exhibit that opens Friday at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art.

“Vernet to Villon: Nineteenth-Century French Master Drawings from the National Gallery of Art” is the result of eight years worth of planning between the two museums. Helping turn an idea into a reality are co-curators Victor Koshkin-Youritzin, David Ross Boyd Professor of Art History at OU, and Margaret Morgan Grasselli, curator of Old Master Drawings at the National Gallery of Art.

“This is the first time the National Gallery has lent a complete show to any institution in the state,” Koshkin-Youritzin said. “I knew about the fantastic collection they have and called them out of the blue about the possibility of putting together this show. I had a great meeting with their curators who became very interested in this project.”

Koshkin-Youritzin's desire was to identify a number of great drawings that would be considered beautifully composed fine works of art. Complementing works by the artists mentioned above are drawings and watercolors by Carle Vernet, Theodore Gericault, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Constant Troyon, Jacques Villon and Paul-Cesar Helleu.

The art works included in this exhibit span just over a century, from 1810 to 1914, and cover five stylistic periods: Neo-Classicism, Romanticism, Realism, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. The subjects range from portraits and landscapes to still lifes and seascapes.

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