Who knew that Old Masters drawings would be the talk of the season? While two blockbuster exhibitions in the UK are currently focusing on the genre, to great critical acclaim, the J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has just announced the acquisition of 16 Old Master drawings in its largest-ever purchase by value (reportedly more than $100 million).

The collection, which will eventually be exhibited as a group, includes Michelangelo’s pen and ink Study of a Mourning Woman which was famously discovered at Castle Howard in 2000, an ink drawing by Parmigianino of the Head of a Young Man with a disconcerting gaze,  The Head of a Young Boy Crowned with Laurel by Lorenzo di Credi and Head of St Joseph, a study for a picture now in the Pitti Palace, Florence, by Andrea del Sarto. Other artists represented in the group include Sebastiano del Piombo, Francisco de Goya and Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo. (The collection also includes La Surprise, a gem of a painting by Antoine Watteau).

The director of the museum, Timothy Potts, commented “This acquisition is absolutely transformative in terms of the quality of our drawings collection…There hasn’t been an opportunity like this in 30 years of the Getty’s existence and there won’t be again.”

We’re looking forward to seeing them on show.  If you can’t wait until then, beautiful examples of Old Master drawings are currently on display at the National Portrait Gallery, London in The Encounter, a major exhibition focusing on portrait drawings by some of the outstanding masters of the Renaissance and Baroque periods.  Featuring exquisite works by Leonardo de Vinci, Durer and Rembrandt, our favourites include Hans Holbein the Younger’s drawing of Sir John Godsalve from the Royal Collection and Jacopo Pontormo’s Study of a Nude Youth, with its intriguingly anxious expression.
To complete your summer fix of Old Master drawings, don’t forget to visit the Ashmolean for their once in a lifetime show of works by Raphael.