Works in the Prints and Drawings Department
With some 13,500 works, the Prints and Drawings Department offers an enormous diversity of works on paper or cloth from the 15th to the 21st century. Grouped according to artists or source collections, they bear eloquent testimony to the scope of the museum's holdings.
The pre-modern collection stands out for its 64 Cacault albums, which might be termed ancestors of art history manuals and comprise no less than 7500 prints. The 19th-century section has over 3000 prints and drawings, largely thanks to successive gifts by collector Gildas Fardel; and there is also the Bryen collection, deposited by the Camille Bryen Foundation under the aegis of the Fondation de France. The contemporary collection – over 350 drawings and 300 photographs (the latter including Seton Smith, Efrat Shvily and David Goldblatt) – has significant bodies of work by Sarkis, Tony Grand and Rosemarie Troeckel.
The role of the Prints and Drawings Department
Prints, drawings and photographs are by nature highly sensitive to light, which, whether natural or artificial, can cause irreversible damage in the form of yellowing of paper, discolouration of photographs, crackling of protective coatings, discoloration and weakening of glue, etc. In the Prints and Drawings Department works are protected from ultra-violet and infra-red radiation by specifically adapted presentations that include passe-partout mounts using neutral materials.
As a way of reconciling conservation and display to the public, exhibition time for individual works is limited to three months for every three years spent in storage. This explains why there are few exhibitions and why works can only be viewed by appointment.