Contemplating Character: Portrait Drawings & Oil Sketches from Jacques-Louis David to Lucian Freud
The Society of the Four Arts
On Exhibition in the Esther B. O’Keeffe Building: North, Main and South Galleries
Hours: Sunday – 1 to 5 p.m.; Monday – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday – Four Arts members only, 1 to 5 p.m.; Wednesday through Saturday – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Nov. 25, Dec. 25, and Jan. 1.
Contemplating Character: Portrait Drawings & Oil Sketches from Jacques-Louis David to Lucian Freud explores the evolution of portraiture in 81 works on paper by 68 artists. Executed by some of the most famous portraitists in Europe and America, the works range in date from the 18th century to present day and encompasses the many art styles and movements during this expanse of time. Collectively, they reveal the challenge of artists engaged with portraiture: to accurately portray an individual’s physical appearance and capture the sitter’s personality and soul.
Contemplating Character is divided into seven thematic sections: artists’ self-portraits, images of family and friends, portraits of artists, anonymous sitters as subjects, scenes of drama and imagination, images of fame, and portraits of repose. This innovative arrangement creates provocative juxtapositions between the portraits, such as a dramatic study of a man wearing a turban by French Neoclassical painter Jacques-Louis David compared to two introspective works by Lucian Freud, the grandson of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. The exhibition also includes notable artists: Aubrey Beardsley, George Wesley Bellows, Pierre Bonnard, William Merritt Chase, R. Crumb, Edgar Degas, Alfred Hitchcock, Thomas Lawrence, Maximilien Luce, Dora Maar, Adolf von Menzel, and Édouard Vuillard, among others.
All the works are drawn from the personal collection of Robert Flynn Johnson, Curator Emeritus of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Mr. Johnson was a curator of graphic art for over forty years and assembled a scholarly collection of rare portraits that exhibit extraordinary artistic skill and imagination. Contemplating Character is accompanied by a 160-page fully illustrated catalogue with an essay by Mr. Johnson.
The exhibition was organized by Landau Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA in association with Denenberg Fine Arts, West Hollywood, CA.