February 13 – April 8, 2016
Artists at Work showcases one of the museum’s newest additions—a collection of drawings by Italian, Dutch and French artists of the 17th and 18th centuries recently donated by a local collector. These sketches, generally made as studies for oil paintings or theatrical sets, show the fine line between fine art and commercial art that most artists of the period walked. Apprenticing in studios or learning the family business from an older brother or father, these artists traded on technical mastery and artistic skill to make a living, sometimes supported by aristocratic or royal patrons like the Hapsburgs. We explore what drove the cultural appetite for these artworks and what sparked some artists to transcend mastery to reach artistic genius.