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Soldier on Horseback in Catoptric Anamorphosis

Jean François Niceron (French, 1613–1646), or artist in his circle. Soldier on Horseback in Catoptric Anamorphosis (after Hendrick Goltzius), ca. 1620–40. Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, over traces of leadpoint or soft, grayish black chalk. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Brooke Russell Astor Bequest, 2013 (2013.203)

Drawings and Prints

Selections from the Permanent Collection

August 27–November 17, 2013

Currently on view in the Johnson Gallery for Drawings and Prints are a number of important recent acquisitions. An installation, entitled Anamorphosis: The Playground of Perspective, presents and explains with examples the fascinating phenomenon of images seen in optical distortions caused by the use of a reflecting cylindrical mirror, or catoptric anamorphosis. The key piece of this installation is a very rare, newly acquired drawing of a Roman soldier either by Jean-François Niceron (1613–1646) or an artist in his circle, which is drawn in distorted catoptric anamorphosis, and exhibited alongside a number of prints of catoptric anamorphic images from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. A vitrine nearby demonstrates, step by step, how this kind of optical distortion was made.

Also shown is a rare, newly acquired drawing, The Miracle of the Miser's Heart, by the Venetian Renaissance sculptor Antonio Lombardo (ca. 1458–1516), accompanied by drawings and prints by Lombardo's Northern Italian contemporaries. Another wall displays a group of monumental full-scale drawings, or cartoons, by Italian sixteenth-century artists, including a rare, large working drawing by Michelangelo Anselmi (1492–1556), Putti Playing with Hoops.

This rotation features prints and drawings depicting the deaths of famous artists, including Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci, as well as a selection of drawings illustrating ruined castles that includes several new acquisitions by Georges Sand, Christian Georg Schütz the Younger, and Victor Hugo.

A group of works exploring the print revival in nineteenth-century France is also on view, with examples by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pierre Bonnard, and Edgar Degas. Finally, a selection of twentieth-century prints showcase abstract works by women artists from Atelier 17, the famous printmaking workshop run by Stanley Hayter.