Jean-Baptiste-Marie Pierre (Paris 1713-1789 Paris)
Pan and Syrinx, 1746
Oil on canvas, 
The Horvitz Collection

Image: The Ringling

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art has gotten its hands on what is one of the most important collections of French art outside of France. With over 60 drawings on display, as well as accompanying prints and paintings, Storytelling: French Art from the Horvitz Collection will give viewers a crash course in the tradition of French art.

“With social media, we are constantly surrounded by texts and images together,” Ulla R. Searing Curator of Collections Sarah Cartwright says. “How images and texts exist together has always been an interesting phenomenon. In these exhibits, we see the images without the accompanying texts, so we see how the artists were translating a story into a visual image.”

Storytelling: French Art from the Horvitz Collection unites two exhibits from the personal collection of Jeffrey E. Horvitz, Imaging Text: French Drawings for Book Illustrations and Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century French Paintings from the Horvitz Collection.

Louis-Michel Vanloo (Toulon 1707-1771 Paris)
Geneviève-Françoise-Laurette Randon da Malboissière as Melpomene, The Horvitz Collection

Image: TheRingling

“The level of execution is amazing,” Cartwright says, “just the sheer technical virtuosity of these artists with chalk, pen or other means. It’s really extraordinary to see the amount of accomplishment on such a small scale, since most of these works are quite small.”

Although the subject matter ranges from mythology to religion, one of the constants is the portrayal of humanness and human emotion. Most of these works are from the tradition of history painting, which was considered the highest achievement of French art. 

“These drawings are from one of the finest collections in the whole world,” Cartwright says. “It’s a rare opportunity to see art from a personal collection in such great condition.”

Some of the work featured in these exhibits will be available in a catalogue, which can be purchased from the Museum Shop to take home, ensuring that this also becomes apart of the personal collection of many. The exhibition is open from Sept. 9 to Dec. 2.

Edme Bouchardon (Chaumont-en-Bassigny 1698-1762 Paris)
Visigoths Attacking Clovis as He Kills Alaric
Red chalk on cream antique laid paper, framing lines in red chalk, 
The Horvitz Collection

Image: TheRingling



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