Hubert Robert, Massacre of the Innocents, 1796. Chalk, brown, and red, on paper, 8 1/4 in. x 7 1/4 in. (20.96 cm x 18.42 cm) Crocker Art Museum, E. B. Crocker Collection. 1871.410.

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y.- The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College will present an exhibition of the finest early collection of European drawings in the United States this fall from September 16 through December 11, 2011. On Friday, September 16, at 6pm in Taylor Hall (room 203), William Breazeale, Curator of the Crocker Art Museum, will deliver a lecture entitled “Fragonard on the Frontier: The Crocker Collection of Old Master Drawings.” This will be followed by an opening reception at the Art Center.

Previously the exhibition was seen at both the Crocker Art Museum (Sacramento, CA) and the Portland (OR) Art Museum, however this is its only East Coast presentation.

A Pioneering Collection: Master Drawings from the Crocker Art Museum will include 57 rarely seen works by artists such as Albrecht Durer, Fra Bartolommeo, Anthonie van Dyck, Francois Boucher, and Jean-Auguste-Cominque Ingres. The exhibition will be divided thematically into four sections of drawings from Italy, the Low Countries, France, and Central Europe.

These drawings date from the late 15th- to the mid-19th centuries and were purchased between 1869-71 by forward-thinking railroad magnate E. B. Crocker, forming the basis of the Crocker Museum’s master drawings collection. In total, the Crockers purchased 1344 master drawings and 700 paintings during their time in Europe and these formed the basis of their private art gallery, which opened in 1872, featuring visitors like the queen of Hawaii and former U.S. President Grant. Following the death of Edwin Crocker, his wife Margaret transferred the gallery to the California Museum Association, now the Crocker Art Museum. Their old master drawing collection was one of the first historically to be opened to the public in 1885.

This exhibition was organized in celebration of the Crocker’s Anne and Malcolm McHenry Works on Paper Study Center and exhibition space, designed to significantly enhance public access to this collection of master drawings.

A catalogue by lead author and Crocker Art Museum curator Wiliam Breazeale; Cara Dufour Denison, curator at the Morgan Library and Museum; Stacey Sell, associate curator of Old Master drawings at the National Gallery of Art, and Freyda Spira, research associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, accompanies the exhibition and will be available at the Art Center gift shop (Paul Holberton Publishing, 2010, $35).

Albrecht Dürer, Female Nude with a Staff, 1498. Pen and dark brown ink on cream laid paper, 12 3/16 x 8 11/16 in. Crocker Art Museum, E. B. Crocker  Collection.

Exhibition Events
Opening of A Pioneering Collection: Master Drawings from the Crocker Art Museum September 16 at 6:00pm “Fragonard on the Frontier: The Crocker Collection of Old Master Drawings” Taylor Hall, Room 203, followed by a reception in the Art Center Crocker Art Museum curator William Breazeale, who organized the exhibition and is the lead author for the exhibition catalogue, will deliver the lecture “Fragonard on the Frontier: The Crocker Collection of Old Master Drawings.” A specialist in Old Master drawings, Breazeale received his doctorate from the University of Maryland with a dissertation on Italian 16th-century sketchbooks after the Antique. Having lived in Italy, most recently under the Fullbright Full Grant program, he has studied the art and literature of the country since his undergraduate days at John Hopkins University. He curated the traveling exhibition The Language of the Nude: Four Centuries of Drawing the Human Body and co-authored the exhibition catalogue with three colleagues in the field.
Roelandt Savery (Flemish, 1576-1639), Dodo Birds, n.d. Chalk, black and amber on cream paper. Crocker Art Museum, E. B. Crocker
Collection. 1871.102.