Draw the letter, write the drawing

From friday 15 october 2021 to sunday 16 january 2022

Wed. to Sun. 1pm-7pm - Closed Mon. and Tue.

Cabinet des dessins Jean Bonna

14 rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris

The relationship between text and image has never been so present in contemporary art (Basquiat, Cy Twombly, Street Art, etc.). It is particularly evident in the field of drawing, which is similar to writing in its literal graphic character, but also in its privileged medium, paper. The exhibition proposes to explore the question of this relationship through the previous centuries. 

The inscriptions affixed by the artist or sometimes by the amateur contribute to a reading of the drawings which, without their presence, would escape their understanding. Thanks to them, the visitor finds himself at the heart of the creation and perceives all the complexities of an invention where imagination, constraints of a commission, visual culture, but also chance and improvisation are mixed. 

The selected works offer a wide typology of writings that generally appear on the drawings: signatures or monograms (Urs Graf), dates (Zuccari), places of execution (Hubert Robert, Natoire), dedications (Puvis de Chavannes), comments related to the context of a commission or a market linking the artist and the client (Pourbus, Martellange). Annotations of colors, dimensions or architectural details contribute to provide information on a project intended to be painted, sculpted or engraved. 

The sources from which the artists drew their inspiration are as many references explicitly inscribed on the sheets: artistic sources, when the draftsman refers to great masters, Michelangelo (Carpeaux), Bramante (Hubert Robert), Holbein (Alberola), literary or oral sources: Homer and Hesiod (de La Fosse), Sophocles (Veronese), Michaux (Unica Zürn), proverbs (Verbeeck, Richer). 

If the inscriptions and the drawings most often form a coherent whole, they sometimes cohabit in a random juxtaposition, which can surprise the visitor. 



Curated by Emmanuelle Brugerolles.


Catalog of the exhibition : 

Texts by Emmanuelle Brugerolles, curator of drawings at the Beaux-Arts de Paris, and David Guillet, general curator of heritage, director of the collections and the Château de Fontainebleau.

Collection Carnets d'études

Format 20 x 22.5 cm

112 pages

25 €



According to the regulations in force since July 21, you will be asked to show a health pass or proof of a negative RT-PCR or antigen test less than 72 hours old at the time of the inspection. Wearing a mask is mandatory.

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2, 5 or 10 €, the choice is yours!

The ticket office in charge invites each visitor coming to discover an exhibition at the Beaux-Arts de Paris to choose his or her entrance ticket from among 3 proposed rates: 2 €, 5 € or 10 €. Contribute according to your means, your passion and your desire for commitment!

Free of charge (on presentation of a valid receipt):

• under 18 years old

• students and teachers of the National Higher Schools of Art and Architecture of the Ministère de la Culture

• students from member institutions of the University of Paris-Sciences-et- Lettres (PSL)

• students of the École du Louvre

• holders of the Ministère de la Culture card

• Amis des Beaux-Arts de Paris

• card holder : Maison des Artistes, ICOM, ICOMOS, Association française des commissaires d’exposition (CEA)

• journalists

• jobseekers, recipients of minimum social benefits

• civilian disabled and war-disabled (with an attendant)