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Guercino: Virtuoso Draftsman

Guercino: Virtuoso Draftsman


Accompanying an exhibition of drawings by Guercino from the collection of the Morgan Library & Museum, Guercino: Virtuoso Draftsman offers an overview of the artist’s graphic work, ranging from his early genre studies and caricatures, to the dense and dynamic preparatory studies for his paintings, and on to highly finished chalk drawings and landscapes that were ends in themselves.


Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, known as Guercino (1591-1666), was arguably the most interesting and diverse draftsman of the Italian Baroque era, a natural virtuoso who created brilliant drawings in a broad range of media. The Morgan owns more than twenty-five works by the artist, and these are the subject of a focused exhibition, supplemented by a handful of loans from public and private New York collections, to be held at the Morgan in the autumn of 2019. This volume accompanies that exhibition. It includes an introductory essay on Guercino’s work as a draftsman followed by entries on the Guercino drawings in the Morgan’s collection. These include sheets from all moments of the artist’s career. His early awareness of the work of the Carracci in Bologna is documented by figures drawn from everyday life as well as brilliant caricatures; two drawings for Guercino’s own drawing manual are further testament to his interest in questions of academic practice. Following his career, a range of preparatory drawings includes studies made in connection with his earliest altarpieces as well as his mature masterpieces, including multiple studies for several projects, allowing the visitor to see Guercino’s mind at work as he reconsidered his ideas. The Morgan’s holdings also include studies for engravings as well as highly finished landscape and figure drawings that were independent works. 


Guercino: Virtuoso Draftsman continues a series of exhibition catalogues focused on highlights from the Morgan’s collection. Previous volumes include Power and Grace: Drawings by Rubens, Van Dyck, and Jordaens and Thomas Gainsborough: Experiments in Drawing, also published by Paul Holberton. While some of the Morgan’s Guercino drawings are well known, they have never been exhibited or published as a group, and the selection includes a number of new acquisitions.  

  • By John Marciari

    October 2019

    Paperback, 210 x 210 mm

    120 pages, 90 colour illustrations

    ISBN: 978-1-911300-69-4


    John Marciari is the Charles W. Engelhard Curator and Head of the Department of Drawings and Prints at the Morgan Library & Museum. A specialist in Italian art of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, his recent publications have included Drawing in Tintoretto’s Venice (published by Paul Holberton in 2018) and, with Rhoda Eitel-Porter and others, Italian Renaissance Drawings from the Morgan Library & Museum (published by the Morgan in 2019).  

  • Exhibition

    Morgan Library & Museum, New York 

    4 October 2019 – 2 February 2020

  • In the press

    "Small, scholarly book ... John Marciari writes meticulously." –Art Newspaper 

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