The Department of Drawings and Prints boasts more than one million drawings, prints, and illustrated books made in Europe and the Americas from around 1400 to the present day. Because of their number and sensitivity to light, the works can only be exhibited for a limited period and are usually housed in on-site storage facilities.
To highlight the vast range of works on paper, the department organizes four rotations a year in the Robert Wood Johnson, Jr. Gallery. Each installation is the product of a collaboration among curators and consists of up to 100 objects grouped by artist, technique, style, period, or subject.
This installation features a selection of prints illustrating the lavish festivities and ceremonies celebrated in Venice, a city that always been intimately tied to the sea; portraits of artists by Spaniards, including Francisco Goya (1746–1828) and Pablo Picasso (1881–1973), which reveal the great variety of ways these artists approached their sitters; a focused look at canceled printing plates; a group of poetic British landscape drawings and watercolors selected to elucidate a new acquisition, Sabrina, by Samuel Palmer (1805–1881); British and American watercolors and color woodcuts focused on dramatic skies by John Constable (1776–1837), David Cox (1783–1859), and Arthur Wesley Dow (1857–1922); drawings made by British artists who worked in India during the East India Company period (before 1874); and works by contemporary artists that deal with the environment, both natural and man-made, often in the face of rapidly shifting conditions.