Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Guercino: Virtuoso Draftsman

Morgan Library & Museum, New York

October 4, 2019 through February 2, 2020

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (1591–1666), known as Guercino, 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. Supreme examples of virtually every genre of drawing produced in seventeenth-­century Italy survive from his hand: academic nudes, genre scenes and caricatures, energetic and fluid pen sketches for figures and compositions, highly refined chalk drawings, designs for engravings, and landscapes of many types.The Morgan holds more than thirty-­five drawings by Guercino but has never before mounted an exhibition focused on the artist or shown so many of the drawings together.

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called Il Guercino (1591–1666),
Vision of St. Philip Neri

Guercino: Virtuoso Draftsman highlights the richness of the Morgan’s collection, and with the addition of a few loans offers an overview of Guercino’s brilliance as a draftsman across a career that spanned half a century.

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called Guercino
(Italian, 1591–1666)
The Triumph of Galatea, 1620s
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, squared in black chalk
Private collection


  • By John Marciari

    October 2019
    Paperback, 210 x 210 mm
    80 pages, 60 colour illustrations
    ISBN: 978-1-911300-69-4

    Accompanying an exhibition of drawings by Guercino from the collection of the Morgan Library & Museum, Guercino: Virtuoso Draftsman offers an overview of the artist’s graphic work, ranging from his early genre studies and caricatures, to the dense and dynamic preparatory studies for his paintings, and on to highly finished chalk drawings and landscapes that were ends in themselves.

    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. 

    This volume accompanies that exhibition. It includes an introductory essay on Guercino’s work as a draftsman followed by entries on the Guercino drawings in the Morgan’s collection. These 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. 

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