UnderCover Artists’ Sketchbooks was mounted to accompany the exhibition It focuses the sketchbooks of Edward Burne-Jones, Benjamin Champney, Henri-Edmond Cross, Jacques-Louis David, Paul Feeley, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Sanford Gifford, George Grosz, Frederic Leighton, John Singer Sargent.
Artists have used sketchbooks for centuries, entrusting travel sketches, figure studies, compositional ideas, and notes of every kind to their pages. Designed to be easily portable, sketchbooks are often kept in a pocket, and offer an unusually personal glimpse of the artist at work. Leafing through sketchbooks can result in a disconcerting sense of having invaded the artist’s privacy, as if one were reading a diary or looking over a shoulder. In addition to drawings, notes and addresses, doodles and train schedules, sketchbooks can bear the familiar curve of the artist’s body, the mark of his or her hand. While sketchbooks are often small, some are capacious, allowing broad, expansive sketching.