The exhibition 'Collection revisited: Drawings from seven decades' provides a first comprehensive overview of the portfolio of drawings from the late 15th century to the present day since its move to the new building of the museum. Although the number of artworks on paper was quite small when the museum established its home on Augustplatz in 1858, the Graphic Collection today comprises around 70,000 works, including prints, drawings and photographs.
Visitors can now enjoy a selection of approximately 150 drawings and view the original works that are otherwise kept largely concealed from the public. The sensitivity of paper is the reason for this infrequent showing. The exhibition presents works that testify to the over 160 years of dedication to assembling noteworthy pieces, as well as to the peculiarities of the Graphic Collection. It features portrait sketches, landscapes, finished portraits, watercolours, sketch pads and letters by artists. Frequently small and intricate, the artworks insist that the audience appreciates the technical diversity, as well as the artistic genres and their various schools. Their common feature is paper as the image medium and the stylus made of metal, graphite, lead or charcoal. Drawing became an independent discipline in the 20th century, stripping away the requirements for form and content. Lines, colours and spaces provide opportunities for experimental, new and artistic expressions, as well as an expansion of the imaging repertoire.
A “gallery of prints (“Kuperstichkabinett”) is first mentioned in 1880. The museum does not really set about collecting art on paper until the end of the 19th century. Instead it has been numerous collectors, foundations and friendship associations that have promoted the collection of drawings, expanding it since the museum was established. Deserving particular mention are Christian Heinrich Demiani, Johann August Otto Gehler, Hermann Härtel, Moritz Eduard Mayer, Rudolf Benno von Römer, Maximilian Speck von Sternburg, Hans-Peter Bühler, Marion Bühler-Brockhaus and Mayen Beckmann. Works by Filippino Lippi, Hans Holbein the Younger, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Rembrandt, Lorenzo Lotto, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Nicolas Poussin, Adam Friedrich Oeser, Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld and the master of the house will be presented from the bundle of drawings owned by the Leipzig Councillor Gehler, which was donated to the museum in 1859 in the name of his son-in-law, Heinrich Dörrien. Drawings by Salvator Rosa and Giovan Lorenzo Bernini point to the collection of Roman drawings from the Baroque period from the estate of Christina, Queen of Sweden. An introduction to the art of drawing at the turn of the 20th century is provided in works by Max Klinger, Adolph von Menzel, Franz von Stuck, Hans von Marées, Auguste Rodin, Gustav Klimt, Käthe Kollwitz and Max Liebermann. Max Beckmann is strongly represented as an important representative of Classic Modernism in the more than 360 drawings that were given as a permanent loan by the estate of Mathilde Q. Beckmann. An important aspect of the collection from the end of the Second World War to the present day has been on German art produced around the HGB in Leipzig and neighbouring centres of art.