British Drawings at The Huntington

Maya M. Tola 4 August 2022 min Read

The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California has curated the 100 Great British Drawings exhibit at the MaryLou and George Boone Gallery until September 5, 2022. This spectacular exhibit features several exceptional and distinctive British drawings and watercolors from the 17th through the mid-20th centuries.

History of Drawing in Britain

Drawings usually entail the linear rendition of objects, or concepts on a medium with the use of ink, charcoal, or other similar means. Works of art are often preceded by a preliminary sketch or drawing. Although the practice of drawing is often employed as a building block of artistic intention and usually forms a part of formal artistic training, drawing also flourished as an independent art form. In Britain, drawing thrived in the late 17th century. The inspiration came from the influx of artists from continental Europe as well as from the British artists that traveled abroad to obtain artistic training.

Drawing is the most spontaneous and intimate of art forms, revealing the thoughts and mood of the artist through the stroke of a pen or touch of a brush dipped in watercolor.

Melinda McCurdy, Curator of British art.

The Collection at the Huntington

The British Drawings exhibit tracks the development of drawing in Britain and demonstrates the full range of the creative process from rough sketches to finished works. It covers a wide array of styles and a variety of paintings such as landscapes, illustrations, caricatures, portraiture, still life, and historical subjects.

Robert R. Wark, the curator of the Huntington’s art collections from 1956 to 1990, was responsible for the compilation of this remarkable repository in Southern California. Founders Henry and Arabella Huntington were ardent collectors of British art, however with a few exceptions, the drawings were not purchases made by them.

Installation view: 100 Great British Drawings at the MaryLou and George Boone Gallery at the Huntington, San Marino, CA, USA. Photo by the author, July 23, 2022.

Highlights of the Exhibit

This impressive exhibit represents many one-of-a-kind artworks under one roof. It includes revered names in British art history such as Thomas Gainsborough, John Roddam Spencer Stanhope, and Samuel Palmer to name a few as well as many other lesser known, yet impressive, British artists through the decades. Here are some highlights.


Exhibition Information

The exhibition is on display at the MaryLou and George Boone Gallery at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California until September 5, 2022. To complement the exhibition, The Huntington has published a catalog entitled Excursions of Imagination: 100 Great British Drawings from The Huntington’s Collection. This 256-page illustrated catalog is available for purchase from the museum store.



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