February 07, 2014

Getty Museum Acquires Significant Early Drawing By Georges Seurat

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Alexandria Sivak
Getty Communications
(310) 440-6473

LOS ANGELES -- The J. Paul Getty Museum announced today the purchase at auction of the drawing Indian Beggar (c. 1878-79) by Post-Impressionist luminary Georges Seurat (1859-1891). The work comes from the private collection of Jan Krugier, one of the preeminent art dealers and collectors of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and is considered by scholars to be the most original achievement of Seurat’s youth.

“This exquisite Seurat is a beautiful and highly important addition to our collection of 19th century drawings,” explains Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “An early work of c. 1878-79, made when the artist was about twenty-years-old, this drawing signifies the beginning of Seurat’s obsession with the effects of light and dark that characterize his mature paintings and drawings. Together with the later works in our collection, this allows us to represent Seurat’s brilliance as a draftsman throughout his career.”

An apprentice to Justin Lequien, Seurat was trained in the academic style of figure drawing, and his early works faithfully produce the stillness and solidity of antique sculptures. Indian Beggar represents a critical turning point in Seurat’s approach to figure drawing, towards a more distinctive style that employs gradations of light and shadow to define the form and mood of his subjects.

In the drawing, the subject, an old man, sits with his face turned away from the viewer, shoulders slumped, with folds of skin rippling down his stomach. Delicate effects of light and shadow are achieved through soft, rubbed, and repeated strokes and cross-hatching.

The drawing is a major addition to the Museum’s holdings of works by Seurat, which includes three masterpieces from his classical period of the 1880s, including Madame Seurat, the Artist’s Mother
(1882-83), Poplars (1883-84), and Woman Strolling (1884).

"The 19th century has been a major priority of the Getty Museum’s Drawings Department for the past decade, and the acquisition of this great sheet from the Krugier sale marks a milestone in the growth of this wonderful part of the collection," says Lee Hendrix, senior curator of Drawings at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Plans for displaying this drawing will be announced

Image: Indian Beggar (c. 1878-79). Georges Seurat (1859-1891). From the Collection of Jan Krugier.

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The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that includes the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations:  the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

The J. Paul Getty Museum collects in seven distinct areas, including Greek and Roman antiquities, European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculpture and decorative arts, and photographs gathered internationally. The Museum’s mission is to make the collection meaningful and attractive to a broad audience by presenting and interpreting the works of art through educational programs, special exhibitions, publications, conservation, and research.

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