The Invention of Drawing (recto); Sketch of Lower Leg Bones of Human Skeleton (verso)

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Object Details

Title:

The Invention of Drawing (recto); Sketch of Lower Leg Bones of Human Skeleton (verso)

Artist/Maker(s):

Joseph-Benoît Suvée (Belgian, 1743 - 1807)

Culture:

Belgian

Place(s):

Belgium (Place created)

Date:

about 1791

Medium:

Black and white chalk on brown paper (recto); graphite (verso)

Dimensions:

54.6 x 35.6 cm (21 1/2 x 14 in.)

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During an illicit rendezvous with her lover, the Corinthian maiden Dibutade decided to trace his silhouette on the wall of her father's studio. Joseph-Benoit Suvée rendered this legend of the invention of drawing in his typically polished drawing technique. Dramatic chiaroscuro lighting enhances the theatricality of the scene. The light from a single flame throws large shadows of the lovers' heads onto the wall behind them and creates dark areas under arms and chins, all of which serves to focus attention on their half-lit faces. The same light also highlights the variegated whites on the gathers of Dibutade's toga and the shine of her skin. These carefully observed and skillfully rendered nuances give Suvée's drawing a lively quality.

Scholars believe that Suvée made this drawing as a replica of a similar painting rather than as a preparatory study.

Provenance

Gerardus van Spaendonck

July 15, 1822

Paillet (firm), Paris, lot 37

December 13, 1984

Christie's (London), lot 150

Exhibitions
Visions of Antiquity: Neo-Classical Figure Drawings (July 22 to September 19, 1993) (30; recto; Catalogue by R.J. Campbell and V. Carlson)
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, (Los Angeles), July 22 to September 19, 1993
18th and 19th Century Drawings (March 15 to May 29, 1994) (30; recto; Catalogue by R.J. Campbell and V. Carlson)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), March 15 to May 29, 1994
Classicism and Neoclassicism in French Drawing, 1600-1860 (October 25, 1994 to January 8, 1995) (30; recto; Catalogue by R.J. Campbell and V. Carlson)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), October 25, 1994 to January 8, 1995
Figural Compositional Drawings from the 16th to the 19th Century (August 31 to December 8, 1996) (recto)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), August 31 to December 8, 1996
A Revolutionary Age: Drawing in Europe, 1770-1820 (January 18 to May 1, 2005) (recto)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), January 18 to May 1, 2005
Drawing the Classical Figure (December 23, 2008 to March 8, 2009) (recto)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 23, 2008 to March 8, 2009
Images of the Artist (November 15, 2011 to February 12, 2012) (recto)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), November 15, 2011 to February 12, 2012
Related Media
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    Audio: Invention of Drawings / Lower Leg Bones (Exhibit: Images of the Artist)