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Exhibits Of Kings And Commoners


Four new exhibitions opening this week at the County Museum of Art offer extraordinarily rich art fare, both traditional and modern.

"Collection for a King: Old Master Paintings From the Dulwich Picture Gallery" contains 36 paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyck, Poussin, Tiepolo, Guercino, Canaletto, Murillo and Gainsborough. The exhibition begins today and runs through Jan. 5.

Dulwich Picture Gallery, the oldest public museum in Britain, came into being as a result of a strange set of circumstances which featured collector and art dealer Noel Desenfans and artist Sir Francis Bourgeois as protagonists.

In 1790, Desenfans was asked to assemble a group of paintings for the King of Poland, Stanislav Augustus, who wished to create a national gallery in Warsaw. Events in Poland forced the King's abdication in 1795 and the paintings never reached that country. Desenfans expanded the collection and unsuccessfully offered it for sale to Russia and then to England for the creation of a national gallery.

Having designated his friend and adviser Sir Francis Bougeois as trustee for the collection, Desenfans stipulated that the pictures be left to an institution that would preserve and exhibit them. In 1811, the collection was bequeathed by Sir Francis to Dulwich College. One of the few remaining buildings designed by British architect Sir John Soane, the Dulwich Picture Gallery was completed in 1814 and was the first building specifically designed to be a public exhibition gallery.

"Masterpieces From the Cone Collection of The Baltimore Museum of Art," showcasing 35 paintings and bronze sculptures by major European modern artists also opens today and continues through Nov. 24. (See William Wilson review in the new Los Angeles Times Magazine.)

"Leonardo to Van Gogh: Master Drawings From Budapest," Thursday to Dec. 8, features 100 15th- to 19th-Century drawings from the prints and drawings cabinet of the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest.

The show emphasizes early Italian, German and Dutch schools and features works by Durer, Baldung-Grien, Huber and Altdorfer. Three Rembrandt drawings, three by Leonardo, two by Raphael, as well as sheets of sketches by Correggio, Parmigianino, the Carracci family, Castiglione and Tiepolo are included. The French School is represented by Watteau chalk drawings and sheets by Poussin, Delacroix and Daumier. Works by Van Gogh, Millet, Seurat and Cezanne exemplify the work of masters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The fourth new show at the museum is a compendium of 35 works by American master Edward Weston titled "Things Seen, Things Known: Photographs by Edward Weston," Thursday through March 10.

Southern California artist Robert Irwin has created a site-specific installation at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, on view through Nov. 24. The artist used sculptural elements and the light patterns in the museum galleries and corridors to change the viewer's perception of these spaces.

The first comprehensive exhibition of Edouard Manet's prints runs through Nov. 3 at the University Art Museum, UC Berkeley.

Organized by the International Exhibitions Foundation in Washington, the show contains 76 works drawn primarily from the George E. Lucas Collection of the Maryland Institute College of Art, on indefinite loan to the Baltimore Museum of Art.

The last exhibition Howard Fox organized for the Hirshhorn Museum--before he became curator of contemporary art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art--opens in Washington on Wednesday and continues through Jan. 5.

Fox organized "A New Romanticism: Sixteen Artists From Italy" (containing 45 paintings and one sculpture) because he believes that "Italy has produced some of the most challenging, exotic and transcendent painting in recent decades."

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