Issued 22 May 2018:


The Ashmolean has been awarded £230,000 by the Getty Foundation, Los Angeles, for a four-year project focusing on the Museum’s renowned collection of Italian drawings.  ‘The Paper Project: Prints and Drawings Curatorship in the 21st Century’ is a new initiative from the Getty Foundation to strengthen curatorial practice in the field of Western graphic arts.  The Ashmolean is amongst the recipients of six inaugural grants to institutions which include the British Museum and the Courtauld Gallery, London; the Morgan Library and Museum, New York; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; and the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden.

In the field of Western art, the Ashmolean holds more than 25,000 drawings and 250,000 prints; it is home to a Print Room which has built an unrivalled reputation as a welcoming study room for the public, students and researchers; and, in recent years, the Museum has held a critically acclaimed programme of exhibitions of Old Master drawings.  The Ashmolean has long been one of the world’s leading centres for the study and display of graphic art.  While Oxford is famous for its Raphael and Michelangelo drawings, the main collection of Italian drawings is a particular treasure with works by artists from the 15th–19th centuries including Federico Barocci, Annibale Carracci, Guercino, Canaletto, and Giambattista Tiepolo. 

The Getty Foundation grant will support the training of two Research Fellows who will work, under the direction of internationally renowned scholar, Professor Catherine Whistler (Head of the Department of Western Art) and with other drawings specialists to produce a comprehensive catalogue of the main collection of Italian drawings as an online resource. The research will inform a subsequent two-volume scholarly publication.  This will constitute a landmark resource for art historians and the public around the world.  The Research Fellows will receive training in drawings scholarship, connoisseurship and curation in the museum profession.  In turn, the Fellows will have opportunities to present their research in seminars and workshops, engaging academics and students directly in object-based art history.

Professor Catherine Whistler says: ‘The Getty Foundation grant will have a transformative effect on this important area of the Ashmolean’s collection.  The research enabled by the grant will make the latest scholarship on drawings available to the widest possible audience; and the training provided to the Research Fellows will foster future leadership in the study of drawings.  We are profoundly grateful to the Getty Foundation for this generous support and honoured to be amongst the world-renowned centres of excellence which have received these inaugural grants.’

‘The Paper Project is a response to the need for more training and professional development opportunities to serve a rising generation of curators of prints and drawings,’ says Deborah Marrow, Director of the Getty Foundation.  ‘Assisting curators at early points in their careers will help ensure that museum departments of prints and drawings continue to have strong leadership and independent voices well into the future. The museums involved in these inaugural projects are widely recognized for their excellent collections, influential scholarship, and commitment to training.’




Claire Parris, Press Officer | T+44 (0)1865 278 178 | M+44 (0)7833 384 512 | @AshmoleanPress


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Ludovico Carracci (1555–1619)
Detail from The Birth of the Baptist

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Cristofano Allori (1577–1621)
Study of a Youth

The J. Paul Getty Trust
The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that includes the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations:  the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades.


The Getty Foundation
The Getty Foundation fulfils the philanthropic mission of the Getty Trust by supporting individuals and institutions committed to advancing the greater understanding and preservation of the visual arts in Los Angeles and throughout the world. Through strategic grant initiatives, the Foundation strengthens art history as a global discipline, promotes the interdisciplinary practice of conservation, increases access to museum and archival collections, and develops current and future leaders in the visual arts. It carries out its work in collaboration with the other Getty Programs to ensure that they individually and collectively achieve maximum effect.