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America Collects Eighteenth-Century French Painting
Yuriko Jackall et al.

In 1815, Joseph, elder brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, arrived in America. Fleeing anti-Bonapartist sentiment in Europe, he brought with him his vast and exquisite collection of eighteenth-century French paintings. They caused a sensation when they were placed on public view at his estate at Bordentown, New Jersey. Most Americans had never seen anything matching the artistry and quality of Bonaparte’s canvases. A new American taste for eighteenth-century French painting was born. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, wealthy collectors furnished their mansions with alluring decorations by the rococo artists Boucher and Fragonard. In more recent times, the lure of eighteenth-century French painting continues to grow, particularly in appreciation for neoclassical representations of Greek heroes by Jacques-Louis David and his disciples — works that convey stern lessons about democracy, ethics, and moral choices.

America Collects Eighteenth-Century French Painting brings together some seventy French paintings that represent some of the best and most unusual examples of this type of art that American museums have to offer — and tells their stories on a national stage. Who were the collectors, curators, museum directors, and dealers responsible for bringing eighteenth-century French painting to America? Where are the paintings now? The exhibition highlights smaller museum collections, less well-known paintings, and locations as diverse as Pittsburgh, Oberlin, Louisville, Jacksonville, and Portland. It considers America’s very real fascination with France in the eighteenth century — a staunch ally in the Revolutionary wars, a cultural and intellectual model for Franklin, Jefferson, and other Americans abroad — but also the way in which the cultural ideal of eighteenth-century France has continued to endure in the American imagination.

384 pages | 275 illustrations | 9.5 x 12.25 inches

Coming May 2017

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Fragonard’s Fantasy Figures
Yuriko Jackall, John Delaney, Michael Swicklik et al.

Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s Young Girl Reading, given to the National Gallery of Art by Ailsa Mellon Bruce in memory of her father, Andrew W. Mellon, remains one of the most widely beloved examples of the artist’s virtuosic style. In 2012 a newly discovered drawing by Fragonard further confirmed its rarity. The drawing was covered with a series of rapidly executed, thumbnail sized sketches, identifiable with a group of paintings by Fragonard known as his “fantasy figures” — quickly painted, vibrantly colored portraits of identical dimensions, each showing its model in extravagant fancy costume. All but four of the thumbnails can be matched to known paintings in private and public collections around the world.

At the National Gallery, the discovery of the drawing prompted a two-year collaborative study of Young Girl Reading by members of the curatorial, conservation, and scientific research departments. The team’s findings, published in the spring 2015 issue of Burlington Magazine, enabled them to establish Young Girl Reading as a fully fledged member of the fantasy figure series and also to shed light upon Fragonard’s approach to the ensemble as a whole.

The exhibition and catalog will bring together all of the known fantasy figures with the newly found drawing. The exhibition will mark the first time these paintings have been in the same setting in more than a generation. Situated at the intersection of social history, fashion history, and new scientific technologies, this unique project and its accompanying catalog will serve as an important compendium of information on Fragonard’s fantasy figures.

160 pages | 190 illustrations | 8 x 10.5 inches

Coming September 2017

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Facture: Conservation, Science, Art History
Volume 3: Degas

Edited by Daphne Barbour and Suzanne Quillen Lomax

Facture, a biennial journal presenting peer-reviewed scholarly articles, addresses issues from conservation treatment and technical art history to scientific research, fostering a dialogue among art historians, scientists, and conservators in the international community. Volume 3 is devoted to the corpus of Edgar Degas. Articles focus on finish in his paintings; analysis of his posthumous bronze casts; and his unconventional use of materials, including tracing paper for a late pastel, wax for his sculpture, and the degree to which he pushed traditional techniques beyond conventional boundaries. Two shorter pieces explore Degas’s soft ground etchings and his sonnet on the contribution to interdisciplinary scholarship on art.

200 pages | 150 illustrations | 8 x 11 inches

Coming 2017