Master Drawings Archive

Nick's Picks – Our Guide to Fathers Day Gifting

With Father’s Day just a few weeks away, we asked Nick Turner, Buyer at The Courtauld Gallery Shop, for his top five gift ideas for Dad.

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Gift Membership to The Courtauld Gallery, from £55 per year
Gift Membership is a wonderful present for art lovers that lasts all year. Members can participate in a special events programme, take advantage of discounts in the Gallery Café and shop, meet with curators and enjoy free entry for themselves plus a guest the whole year round.


Bloomsbury Blue Cufflinks, £35
These unique cufflinks are inspired by designs from the Omega Workshops. Established in 1913 by the painter and influential art critic Roger Fry, the Omega Workshops were an experimental design collective, whose members included Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and other artists of the Bloomsbury Group.


Cezanne Tie, £30
This vibrant tie takes its inspiration from Cezanne’s Lac d’Annecy, currently on display in The Courtauld Gallery.


The Courtauld Gallery Masterpieces, £10
This publication invites you to explore in the masterpieces from across The Courtauld Gallery’s Collection, stretching from the early Renaissance to the twentieth century. It includes iconic Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings such as Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Berègre, van Gogh’s Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Cézanne’s Montagne Sainte-Victoire, as well as drawings by Michelangelo and Rembrandt and rare works of decorative art.


The Courtauld Gallery Prints
Our prints service offers 40,000 high quality digital images of paintings, drawings, architecture and sculpture from The Courtauld Gallery and The Courtauld Institute of Art. Prints are available in a range of sizes, finishes, and can be supplied framed or unframed.


Father’s Day gifts are a great way to spoil your dad and though it can be hard to find the perfect gift for Father’s Day, hopefully Nick has made it a little easier.


Crazy in Love

According to the shop displays and florists since New Year’s Day, the celebration of love and chocolate is around the corner. To celebrate Valentine’s Day here at the Gallery, we took a look at our collection’s best depictions of love.


The Nerli Chest, Biagio d’Antonio, 1472

Chest and spalliera with the arms of Vaggia Nerli and Lorenzo Morelli (The Nerli Chest)

One of a pair of chests made to celebrate the marriage of Vaggia Nerli and Lorenzo Morelli, the Nerli chest was intended for the bride.

Though made in celebration of matrimony, the chest itself seems more a celebration of maternal love than marital affection. It shows the story of the punishment of schoolmaster in ancient Falerii who wanted to offer his pupils to the Romans, betraying them. The Roman officer Camillus saved the children from this fate and gave them rods with which to beat the schoolmaster, a reminder for Vaggia Nerli to protect her children.

Perhaps the moral is that to love your children is to teach them how to protect themselves… with a big stick.


Peter Paul Rubens, Family of Jan Brueghel the Elder, 1613-15

Peter Paul Rubens, Family of Jan Brueghel the Elder, 1613-15

This one is so sweet it hurts, rendering me unable to make a joke. Rubens and Jan Brueghel were close friends and Rubens created a tender portrait of his friend and his family. 

Catharina Brueghel sweetly draws her two children closer, gently touching her son Pieter’s shoulder as he plays with her bracelet. She clasps hands with her young daughter Elisabeth as the little girl stares adoringly up at her mother.


Thomas Gainsborough, Portrait of Mrs. Gainsborough, Circa 1778

Thomas Gainsborough, Portrait of Mrs. Gainsborough, Circa 1778

Family legend holds that Mr. Gainsborough painted a portrait of his Mrs. every year on their wedding anniversary.

Sadly we only know of 5 portraits of Mrs. Gainsborough by her husband, but this portrait is a beautiful testament to their (sometimes fraught) relationship. When painting family, someone the artist knows well, the experience is vastly different from a commissioned portrait or working with a professional model.

This painting is more informal, the technique looser than in other Gainsborough portraits.


Georges Seurat, Young Woman Powdering Herself, ca 1888-90

To finish, a secret love. The woman in the was Seurat’s mistress Madeleine Knobloch. It was only after Seurat’s death that his family learned of her relationship with Seurat and the two children she bore him.

As can be seen in this infra-red photograph, which shows the paint layers underneath the surface, Seurat originally represented himself in the small mirror, painting Madeleine as she applied her makeup.

A friend, unaware of the romantic relationship between painter and model, made fun of Seurat’s inclusion of himself and Seurat angrily painted himself out, replacing his face with flowers in a vase on the corner of a table.

In 1890, Madeleine lost both Seurat and their eldest son to an infectious disease, probably diphtheria.

Trials and triumphs of student curating: MA Curating Exhibition 2014

Madeleine Kennedy, MA Curating the Art Museum student and co-curator of Impress: Print Making Expanded in Contemporary Art.

After months of planning, today we finally begin installing Impress: Print Making Expanded in Contemporary Art.

In the last two weeks the curating process has really gained momentum. Last Wednesday my day was filled with a solid nine hours of meetings, beginning in the upper galleries of The Courtauld Gallery, hours before they were opened to the public.

With the galleries deserted, we took the opportunity to take a peek under the floorboards. We needed to figure out where the power source should come from for one of the most ‘expanded’ prints in Impress, a kinetic sculpture by Mona Hatoum.

It was one of those moments when you realise how much of curating is about working creatively within constraints – being part of a grade 1 listed building, The Courtauld Gallery doesn’t have plugs just anywhere!

View of Students Checking out the sockets under the floorboards in the gallery.

Checking out the sockets under the floorboards in the gallery.

Another matter to be decided on Wednesday was that of wall colours. With Farrow and Ball having kindly offered to supply our paint for free, all we had to do was pick the colour which worked best in the space. This sounds easy but we were faced with a bewildering array of paint options – which colour would you have chosen? Let us know on @MACurating.

View of Marian and Charlotte ponder some of the colour samples in the space, trying to envisage which best complements and unifies all the works in the show.

Marian and Charlotte ponder some of the colour samples in the space, trying to envisage which best complements and unifies all the works in the show.

My next jaunt was to meet with the Public Programmes department. As a member of the events team, I had taken my responsibilities very seriously. I made a habit of going to as many museum late events as possible, including the  The Courtauld Lates.

With our heads filled with ideas, we began discussing the practicalities of running a series of creative workshops. After long hours negotiating back and forth with a printmaking artist, a poet, tutors, security, finance and so on, the events schedule will soon be ready to publish. Watch this space for details.

View of Activities at the Museums at Night Lates: Printmaking at the House of Illustration.

Museums at Night Lates: Printmaking at the House of Illustration.

View of Activities at the Museums at Night Lates: Public participation installation at The Guildhall Art Gallery.

Museums at Night Lates: Public participation installation at The Guildhall Art Gallery.

View of Activities at the Museums at Night Lates: Live music at the Court and Craft Late at The Courtauld Gallery.

Museums at Night Lates: Live music at the Court and Craft Late Night Opening at The Courtauld Gallery.

My day was rounded off with a visit to Bullet Creative in South London. This was the first consultation with the graphic designer about our hopes for the booklet to accompany the exhibition. We saw the first options for the cover design on Thursday, and by the following Wednesday the entire design was almost complete.

Fourteen versions later, this morning the booklet went to print. I could not believe how quickly it has all come together – all credit to the text and interpretation team who generated the writing, and our ever-patient designer at Bullet.

Now galleries 13 and 14 have been emptied: The Courtauld’s modern masters which hung there until a few days ago have been safely stored away, and the space has become an empty shell ready to be transformed into Impress. It feels like a surreal honour for these works to have made way for our exhibition. We can’t wait to see it realised.

Picture of Stuart contemplating where Wassily Kandinsky’s The Red Circle, 1939 used to hang

Stuart contemplating where Wassily Kandinsky’s The Red Circle, 1939 used to hang.

You can keep up to date in the countdown to the opening on 20 June by staying tuned to our MA Curating Instragram and Twitter.


Spotlight on a Masterpiece: Toulouse-Lautrec's Au Lit

Whilst this summer’s show Mantegna to Matisse: Master Drawings from The Courtauld Gallery has now left our shores, having been lovingly packed into bespoke transportation crates, it has found a very happy resting place at The Frick Collection in New York until 27 January 2013.

The exhibition has received some wonderful reviews including the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

One of the masterpieces in the exhibition is Au Lit (c.1896) by Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec, so this edition of Spotlight on a Masterpiece will take a look at this work in more detail.

Toulouse-Lautrec: Au lit, c1896

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec: Au lit, c. 1896

Created using black chalk for the sweeping lines and graphite for the facial details, this drawing shows a woman, lying in bed, looking straight back out at the viewer.

Toulouse-Lautrec’s masterful foreshortening and energy keeps the eye dancing across the page but you keep getting drawn back to her face, in transfixing detail yet described in only a few, choice, graphite marks.

But what is she thinking about? This drawing is likely to have been made from life and the sitter is probably a prostitute from one of the brothels of Montmartre which he spent time in.

The confident, dynamic marks could suggest a dominance over the sitter and some commentators argue that his approach to female sex workers was exploitative, but her comfortable and un-sexualised pose suggests a familiar and friendly relationship to the artist.

She is abundantly aware of the artist’s gaze, and really doesn’t seem to mind or care.

Not only her expression, but also her crossed legs and unkempt hair capture her direct nonchalance.

The bedclothes pulled up to her chin, yet exposing her feet, only increase the enigmatic nature of her pose.

Video: On Rubens' 'Helena Fourment'

Have you seen our poster girl Helena Fourment?

It’s such a stunning portrait that we had to use it on all the posters and marketing material for the Master Drawings exhibition.

Master Drawings poster

Rubens presents his young wife, Helena Fourment, whom he married in 1630 after having been a widower for four years, and not yet ‘inclined to live the abstinent life of the celibate’.

In this new video, exhibition curator Dr Stephanie Buck reveals more about this fascinating image:


You can see more videos from The Courtauld on our YouTube channel.