Over 50 works of Old Master Drawings from the Devonshire Collections will be on display at Sheffield’s Millennium Gallery from 14 February to 25 May 2020 as part of a new exhibition partnership between Chatsworth, Museums Sheffield and The Lightbox, Woking.

Featuring works by Carpaccio, Poussin, Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyck and more, Lines of Beauty: Master Drawings from Chatsworth is the largest display of drawings from the collection in over twenty years.

Amassed by the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Dukes of Devonshire, the Chatsworth collection of Old Master Drawings comprises around 1,800 works by some of the most important artists of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.

When the collection was originally established over 300 years ago, viewing of these works would have been reserved for the social elites of the time. Today, a small selection of drawings are displayed on rotation in the purpose-built Old Master Drawings Cabinet, created in 2012.

Curated by Museums Sheffield in partnership with Chatsworth, this new exhibition at the Millennium Gallery brings together 59 drawings from the collection and marks the first time the drawings, which represent some of the highlights of The Devonshire Collections, have been seen in Sheffield since 1966. 

Opportunities to see them en masse remain limited due to the need to safeguard these delicate works on paper from light damage. As such, only a small selection of works is usually available to view at any one time.

For Lines of Beauty, special interactive consoles have been made that will allow viewers to get up close with the drawings and learn more about them. The exhibition will also encourage people to draw, and special events will take place alongside the display.

Among the drawings on display at the Millennium Gallery are: 

  • Works by Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669), including his pen and ink drawing, An actor, William Ruyter, in his studio (circa 1638). Rembrandt is widely considered one of the most important artists in the history of Western art and the most critically acclaimed painter of the Dutch Golden Age.
  • Drawings in pen and ink with chalk and watercolour by Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641), one of the most prominent Flemish painters of the 17th century, who painted for King Charles I.
  • Nicolas Poussin’s (1594–1665) The Rape of the Sabines (circa 1633), one of a number of preparatory drawings depicting the story from Roman mythology. Poussin’s two paintings of the subject are held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the Louvre, Paris.
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