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The Allure of Drawings

The field of drawings has long been considered one of the most connoisseurial of collecting areas, appealing to specialists who have devoted time, money and mind to building up their holdings. But are their historical continuities that link together the characters of the individuals who have prized drawings across the centuries? What drew them to drawings in the first place? And how far did these individuals think of their private collections as opportunities for future research, display and public access? This discussion will explore the passions and personalities of three collectors whose dedication to drawings spans from the 18th century to recent times – John Guise, Frits Lugt and Eugene V. Thaw. The discussion will examine what the collections built by these figures mean for the museums that house them today: Christ Church Picture Gallery (Oxford), the Fondation Custodia (Paris) and the Morgan Library & Museum (New York). This discussion is part of a series of three events in collaboration with Apollo magazine, exploring the human stories behind museum collections and how the characters and achievements of historic collectors make themselves felt – and are being re-evaluated – in museums today.

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Colin B. Bailey

Colin B. Bailey is the Director of the Morgan Library & Museum, New York. A scholar of 18th- and 19th-century French art, Bailey is a specialist in Pierre-Auguste Renoir. His book, Patriotic Taste: Collecting Modern Art in Pre-Revolutionary Paris, was awarded the Mitchell Prize for best art history book. françaises.

Prior to joining the Morgan, Bailey served as Director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. After periods at the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Arts, the Kimbell Art Museum, and the National Gallery of Canada, he worked at The Frick Collection, becoming Deputy Director and Peter Jay Sharp Curator.

Ger Luijten

Ger Luijten is the director of the Fondation Custodia, Paris. He oversees one of the largest private collections of old master drawings, prints and artists’ letters in the world with a collection of more than 100,000 items. He is the editor, and a former compiler, of Hollstein’s Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts 1450-1700, the standard reference work on the history of printmaking in the region. He was previously curator of prints and drawings at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam (1987–90), and then worked in the Rijksmuseum, first as head of the print department and from 2001 onwards as the head of the Rijksprentenkabinet. In 2020 he was appointed to the board of directors of the Vereniging Rembrandt, a private organization which helps Dutch public museums to enrich their collections.

Jacqueline Thalmann

Jacqueline Thalmann is a Curator at Christ Church Picture Gallery, Oxford. Before that she was research associate at Sir John Soane’s Museum in London and had worked on the Census of Works of Art and Architecture Known in the Renaissance at the Humboldt Universität in Berlin, with a short stint as a provenance researcher for looted art, in Marburg. In recent years she has started to concentrate on the history of collecting in the 18th century. She is currently working on the revision of the catalogue of paintings at Christ Church Picture Gallery and a biography of General John Guise, the Picture Gallery’s first benefactor.

Moderated by Thomas Marks (Apollo Magazine)