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Seated male figures after Roman sculptures / David
 
The collection of sketchbooks and albums of drawings includes examples by Francesco di Giorgio Martini, Jacques-Louis David, Charles Percier, Adolph Menzel, Félix Bracquemond, Edmond Aman-Jean, Ludwig Kirchner, Malvina Hoffman, Diego Rivera, and Mark Rothko. Neoclassical artists training at the French Academy in Rome produced a core group of works. Other sketchbooks demonstrate the ways in which painters, sculptors, and architects made use of preparatory drawings.

Sketchbooks made by artists in the course of their travels contain landscapes, local figures, and works of art. Some sketchbooks were also used as journals, with both drawings and written entries that cover topics from the artistic to the political. This collection, as well as related objects in the Architecture and Design collection, documents the wide variety of media with which artists committed their ideas, memories, and visions to paper.