Master Drawings, Winter 2023

The Winter Issue (Vol. 61, no. 4) of Master Drawings has arrived, presenting a diverse array of scholarship, from articles on German, Italian, and French sheets to new findings on works by Spanish artists. The cover feature examines Martin Schongauer’s Young Woman Fanning a Fire with a Bird’s Wing, where the author challenges us to consider the sheet as an integral work of art with its own narrative, envisioned as an independent drawing, rather than a random study of disparate motifs. Read it and see if you agree.

Two seventeenth-century Spanish artists are discussed in back-to-back articles. A study of Juan Bautista Maíno and his pen-and-ink drawing St. John the Evangelist on Patmos in the British Museum extraordinarily puts forth the first known attribution of a drawing to this artist. In the next article, a newly recognized St. Michael the Archangel Vanquishing the Devil by Antonio de Pereda in the collection of the Biblioteca Nacional de España is presented in the context of his larger body of work.

A pair of rare drawings in American public collections by Sicilian artist Pietro d’Asaro offers tangible proof of two different aspects of the artist’s unique and unmistakable style. Because he was blind in one eye, the artist was known by the nickname il Monocolo di Raculmuto. A series of new identifications of sheets by both Michel-Ange Houasse as well as his father, René-Antoine Houasse, provides remarkable insight into their drawn oeuvres.

Shifting gears, celebrated contemporary American artist Alex Katz sits down with Isabelle Dervaux, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Drawings at the Morgan Library & Museum and Associate Editor of Master Drawings, for a fascinating conversation. Katz describes the role of drawing in his practice, the choice and effect of media selection, the relationship between drawing and painting, and artistic and personal influences, among other topics.

The issue concludes with three potent reviews. Kicking of this section of the journal is an assessment of the 2022 exhibition and catalogue publication devoted to Hans Hoffmann — the first museum show ever devoted solely to the man often dismissed as Dürer’s most famous copyist. A “must-read” handbook of 1,570 early Netherlandish, Dutch, and Flemish drawings owned by the Klassik Stiftung Weimar is the focus of the second review. Completing this issue of Master Drawings is a review of the online catalogue raisonné and accompanying essays devoted to the eighteenth-century pastelist Maurice-Quentin de La Tour.


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Image: Michel-Ange Houasse, Billiard Party, Paris, École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts