Drawings

COLLECTION HIGHLIGHTS

ABOUT THE COLLECTION

Almost all the great artists of the past—painters, sculptors, printmakers, architects—employed drawing as an integral part of their creative process. Using it to explore rough ideas, to study nature and the human figure, and also as an end in itself, artists created works on paper of extraordinary power and immediacy. The Getty Museum’s collection of drawings began with the purchase of a single work by Rembrandt in 1981 and has grown to over 900 drawings and pastels from the 15th to the 19th centuries. From spontaneous sketches to carefully crafted compositions, these compelling sheets demonstrate an array of techniques, materials, and uses, revealing the multifaceted and dynamic nature of the practice and its central role in artistic endeavor.

Drawings and pastels are fragile and susceptible to damage by overexposure to light, and therefore works from the collection are displayed on a rotating basis in thematic exhibitions at the Getty Museum and in national and international loan exhibitions. Drawings not currently on display can be viewed online or seen by appointment in the Drawings Department study room (see details below).

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CONTACT INFO

drawings@getty.edu

RECENT ACQUISITIONS

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CURRENTFUTURE EXHIBITIONS

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IN FOCUS

A simple image: two women seated on a bench in a bare room.
Degas's Waiting

A simple image: two women seated on a bench in a bare room. They share a bench and engage themselves in body language familiar to many of us. Like much of Degas's work from the 1880s, Waiting includes the depiction of a dancer.

Explore this pastel on Google Arts & Culture


 Portrait of white male in 1700s dress wearing a white, curled wig and red robes while he holds and open book
Pastels in Pieces

When 18th-century pastellists competed with oil painters for portrait commissions, they faced a challenge: to create pastels on paper as large as paintings on canvas, they had to join together multiple sheets.

See how artists pieced together large-scale portraiture in this exhibit on Google Arts & Culture

Drawing in soft pastel colors of the rocks of Petra, Jordan, with an ampitheater surrounded by brush leading to a path through two large rock formations
Artists on the Move

In an age before mass travel, European artists from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries traveled frequently. Whether it was a short journey or a long one, a temporary visit or a permanent relocation, artists’ mobility had considerable impact on their practice.

Discover this exhibit on Google Arts & Culture

Crop of watercolor in brown tones of Moses overlooking the sea with a glowing orange sun and pyramids in the distance.
The Destruction of Pharaoh's Host

Executed in 1836, this large-scale watercolor is a prime example of the English artist John Martin's (1789–1854) highly dramatic narrative compositions.

Take an in-depth look at The Destruction of Pharaoh's Host on Google Arts & Culture

Portrait of a young blonde girl wearing a cobalt blue cape trimmed in ermine holding a small black dog under her arm.
18th-Century Pastel Portraits

Pastels—dry, satiny colors, manufactured in sticks of every hue—enjoyed a surge in popularity during the 18th century, becoming, for a time, the medium of choice for European portraiture.

Explore a selection of works from our collection in this Google Arts & Culture exhibition

FEATURED VIDEO

No other medium shows the evolution of artistic ideas like drawing. Learn how master and contemporary artists draw over lines, reposition figures and cut and paste parts of their work during the dynamic process of drawing.

Watch more videos about the Collection


CURATORIAL STAFF

Julian Brooks

Senior Curator / Department Head

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Edina Adam

Assistant Curator

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Emily Beeny

Associate Curator

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Casey Lee

Curatorial Assistant

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Stephanie Schrader

Curator

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Julian Brooks

Senior Curator / Department Head

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Edina Adam

Assistant Curator

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Emily Beeny

Associate Curator

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Casey Lee

Curatorial Assistant

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Stephanie Schrader

Curator

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STUDY ROOM

NOTICE: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the study room is closed to visitors until further notice. Inquiries concerning works in the collection can be addressed to drawings@getty.edu.

Drawings not currently on display may be viewed by visitors in the Drawings Department study room. Please fill out the brief application here to make an appointment, ideally a week in advance for individuals and one month in advance for groups. Thank you!