Michelangelo Buonarroti, Study of a Mourning Woman, ca.1500–05. Photo: The Getty

Getty Announces Major Acquisition of Sixteen Master Drawings

The J. Paul Getty Museum announced a landmark acquisition of sixteen master drawings, including works by Michelangelo, Lorenzo di Credi, Andrea del Sarto, Parmigianino, Rubens, Barocci, Goya, and Degas, as well as a canonical painting by the eighteenth-century French artist Jean Antoine Watteau.

“This acquisition is truly a transformative event in the history of the Getty Museum,” said director Timothy Potts. “It brings into our collection many of the finest drawings of the Renaissance through nineteenth century that have come to market over the past thirty years . . . It is very unlikely that there will ever be another opportunity to elevate so significantly our representation of these artists, and, more importantly, the status of the Getty collection overall.”

Potts also noted that the Watteau painting, La Surprise, ca. 1718, one of the artist’s most famous works, had been lost for centuries and only resurfaced ten years ago in Britain. La Surprise is a fête galante, a popular genre Watteau invented which depicts outdoor revelry. The work portrays a young woman and a man embracing, with a musician, or Mezzetin, a stock comic character from the commedia dell’arte who is known to cause trouble, seated next to them.

The painting and the sixteen drawings were purchased as a group from a British private collection. Highlights of the acquisition include an Andrea del Sarto drawing that was once a part of the famous sixteenth-century art historian Giorgio Vasari’s collection, and a pen-and-ink study of a mourning woman by Michelangelo. While the majority of the works are currently at the Getty Museum, some are still pending export licenses from the UK. Plans to exhibit the works in a special installation at the Getty Museum are underway. A full list of the acquired works is as follows:

Michelangelo Buonarroti, Study of a Mourning Woman, ca. 1500–1505

Lorenzo di Credi, The Head of a Young Boy Crowned with Laurel, about 1500–1505

Fra Bartolommeo, Heads of Two Dominican Friars, ca. 1511

Andrea del Sarto, Study for the Head of Saint Joseph, ca. 1526–27

Sebastiano del Piombo, Study for the Figure of Christ Carrying the Cross, ca. 1513–14

Parmigianino (Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola), The Head of a Young Man, ca. 1539–40

Domenico Beccafumi, Head of a Youth, ca. 1530

Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo, Study for Saint Peter, about 1533

Federico Barocci, Head of Saint Joseph, ca. 1586

Peter Paul Rubens, The Head of an African Man Wearing a Turban, ca. 1609–13

Aelbert Cuyp, Panoramic View of Dordrecht and the River Maas, about 1645–52

Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, Punchinello Riding a Camel at the Head of a Caravan, late 1790s

Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes, The Eagle Hunter, ca. 1812–20

John Martin, The Destruction of Pharaoh’s Host, 1836

Edgar Degas, Two Studies of Dancers, ca. 1873

Edgar Degas, After the Bath (Woman Drying Herself), ca. 1886