Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon's generous gifts to the Commonwealth of Virginia include French, British sporting, and American paintings and sculpture on display at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, as well as over a thousand prints and drawings. This exhibition features highlights from their important collection of French drawings. The works span almost 150 years from the nineteenth to the early twentieth century, and include masters such as Géricault, Delacroix, Ingres, Renoir, Pissarro, Degas, Cézanne, and Picasso. A small group of works by other artists are included by virtue of their affinity with the aims of the French School during one of its most creative and innovative periods. The works on view range from formal academic studies to more experimental ones; they document change, not only across the period, but also within the work of individual artists like Corot.
In his autobiography, Paul Mellon wrote of his affinity for drawings such as these, noting "...preliminary drawings or sketches in oil or pastel often have an immediacy and emotional appeal far greater than the final canvas." It is hoped that visitors to this exhibition will share Mr. Mellon's enthusiasm.
The Fralin Museum of Art's programming is made possible by the generous support of The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation.
The exhibition is supported by the Paul Mellon Endowment at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and by The Fralin Museum of Art Volunteer Board, Albemarle Magazine, and Ivy Publications LLC's Charlottesville Welcome Book.