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Poussin, Claude, and French Drawing in the Classical Age

The French refer to the seventeenth century as the Grand Siècle, or the Great Century, an era of divine rule under the reigns of Louis XII and Louis XIV. The kings, their powerful advisors, and the royal court ensured a flourishing of the arts, and the establishment of official academies encouraged the practice and teaching of drawing as a critical element of the creative process.

With an exceptional selection of more than fifty drawings from the Morgan’s collection, this exhibition investigates the dual interests in classicism and naturalism in drawings during this era in which French-born artists rose to prominence at home and abroad. Practitioners such as Claude Lorrain, Nicolas Poussin, Jacques Callot, Charles Le Brun, and others brought a distinctive approach to the style and subject matter of their drawings, informed by principles of rationalism, a profound respect for classcial antiquity, and an understanding of the natural world elevated by divine order.