University Seminar Visits the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.

By Purnell T. Cropper | February 7, 2014

Students in the University Seminar “Drawing Connections: The History and Practice of Drawing,” taught by Professors Jill Pederson and Abbey Ryan ’03, had a private tour of the drawing study rooms at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. in December.  In the first session, students examined drawings by artists they had studied in class, such as Raphael, Dürer, Rembrandt, and Watteau. This valuable opportunity allowed them to observe key details like line, shading, and materials. Students in the class described the visit as inspirational and spoke admiringly of the Master works they saw in person.

Students were then especially honored to meet with Charles Ritchie, artist and associate curator of modern prints and drawings at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Ritchie juried Arcadia’s 2012 Student Biennial and also visited campus to give a lecture, “34 Years of Keeping a Journal: Notes on a Daily Practice for Artists and Writers.” He showed the students original works by artists such as Mary Cassatt, Charles Sheeler, Richard Diebenkorn, and Robert Rauschenberg, while providing unique insight into process and care of each object. Ritchie also shared his experience as a curator and talked to students about pursuing museum careers.

The University Seminar “Drawing Connections: The History and Practice of Drawing” explores connections between the history and studio practice of drawing in the Western tradition. In the course, students examine the historical development of perspectival systems, nature drawing, the role of underdrawings and sketches, changes in techniques and materials, and developments in paper conservation. They investigate these concepts more profoundly through first-hand practice in the studio.

In addition to visiting the National Gallery, students visit drawing collections at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Conservation for Art and Historical Artifacts. These in-person visits allow students to analyze relevant concepts in the work of draftsmen, such as Leonardo, Raphael, Rembrandt, and others. The course begins with the development of drawing practice from the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries, and continues to a discussion of modern works. As an integrated learning experience, the course structure allows students the unique opportunity to gain artistic practice in the historical techniques learned in lecture, giving them a broader perspective in the development of the discipline.

Arcadia’s University Seminars are a showcase of integrative learning, designed to make intellectual connections among academic disciplines and between scholarly ideas and the world beyond the classroom.

Photo by Jill Pederson