Magic of the Draughtsman at Master Drawings New York | Jan. 23-30

  • NEW YORK, New York
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  • January 20, 2021

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Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo (Italian 1727-1804), Owls on a Rocky Perch, c. 1770. Pen and grey ink  and grey and brown wash over traces of black chalk. 267 x 196 mm.


Christopher Bishop Fine Art will exhibit as part of Master Drawings New York from January 23 through January 30, 2021, with a preview on January 22. Master Drawings New York is the pre-eminent event for the celebration and exhibition of Old Master through contemporary drawings in the United States.  In 2021, eighteen dealers from the U.S. and Europe will exhibit online and in galleries along Madison Avenue, from East 63rd Street up to East 86th Street.

At Christopher Bishop Fine Art, 1046 Madison Avenue at 80th Street, the exhibition The Magic of the Draughtsman: Images of the Occult explores the lines between art, science and magic through nearly 20 Master Drawings from the 16th through the early 20th century. Many of the works are being exhibited in New York City for the first time. The exhibition will remain on view through February 12, 2021.

The exhibition surveys pre-modern views of the occult, astrology and alchemy which although distinctly different from our own understanding of the world gave birth to modern science and philosophy. Centered on witches, satyrs, angels and mermaids, the images depicted question our usual understanding of art. Among the highlights are compositions drawn from Roman mythology, the Bible and the plays of Shakespeare, which have continually inspired and challenged artists throughout the ages.  

A drawing by Jacopo Ligozzi (Italian 1547-1627), The Contest of Apollo and Pan, c. 1590, presents a musical competition between two gods. An idealized representation of the Golden Age Ligozzi’s drawing was intended to bring not only prestige but power to his principal patrons, the Medici family of Florence. Ligozzi shared a fascination with alchemy with his patron Francesco I de Medici (1541-1587) and this gold-toned drawing was created as a solar talisman to radiate Apollo’s influence throughout Florence. The drawing is on public view in New York for the first time.

A mysterious calm pervades an intriguing underwater scene as mermaids toll the bell for the dead king described in the song of Ariel in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The 1926 drawing by Arthur Rackham (British 1867-1939) is an exploration of the magical transformation connected to the  expression “sea change,” which was coined by Shakespeare in this play. “Full fathom five thy father lies…/ Nothing of him that doth fade/ But doth suffer a sea-change/ Into something rich and strange.”

A different Shakespearean character from The Tempest is depicted by the painter John Trumbull (British/American, 1756-1843), who was friends with many of America’s founding fathers and became famous for his historical paintings of the American Revolutionary War. His drawing of Prospero, 1784, focuses on the powers of this magician to control the weather. It is likely that the subject chosen reflects Trumbull’s interest in the early electrical experiments of Benjamin Franklin which he uses more widely as a metaphor for burgeoning American ambition and optimism.

The Magic of the Draughtsman also includes a drawing by a draughtswoman. The only surviving work given to the artist Anna Hoffman (Swiss, born 1622-3) depicts a scene that could be termed white magic. The resurrected Christ reveals himself as a messiah to two surprised pilgrims at dinner in The Supper at Emmaus. The drawing is dated to 1642 and inscribed on the verso in a way that speaks volumes about how women artists were viewed at the time. The inscription in German indicates simply that the drawing was made “by Hoffmann’s daughter in Basel.” Anna Hoffman’s father was Samuel Hoffmann (1591-1648), an important Swiss painter who trained in Rubens’ studio whose influence may be seen in this work. The rest of her work remains to be rediscovered as is the case with so many female artists similarly lost to history making this unique example of her work all the more precious.

About Christopher Bishop Fine Art
Christopher Bishop Fine Art specializes in drawings from the 15th through early 20th century. The gallery is located at 1046 Madison Avenue at East 80th Street. Known for a scholarly approach to evaluating, presenting, and authenticating Old Master works as well as a wide range of works on paper, the gallery seeks to present new ways to think about and collect Old Masters and modern works on paper. The gallery participates in Master Drawings New York; The Salon du Dessin, Paris; and October Art Week, New York. More information is available at

About Master Drawings New York
Master Drawings New York (MDNY) was established in 2006 as the New York counterpart to Master Drawings London (now part of London Art Week) and began as an art event dedicated to Old Master drawings on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Scheduled for the last week of January, the event coincides with the major Old Master auctions and scholarly events focused on drawings. It is a week dedicated principally to works on paper, with collectors, scholars, museum curators and dealers tuning in to programming from a wide range of institutional partners. Since its inception, MDNY has become one of the top specialist art events in the U.S. and has grown to include paintings and sculptures, spanning all periods.
Saturday, January 23 – Saturday, January 30, 2021
Online Opening Preview: Friday, January 22, 12pm

Hours for visiting select Galleries in New York:

  • Preview day: Friday 22 January, 4 - 8pm
  • Daily: 11am - 6pm; Sunday 24 January 2pm - 6pm
  • Visit each Exhibitor webpage for details 

Online and at select Galleries on the Upper East Side NYC



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