By Martha Nodar

As a young boy growing up in New York, Michael Schlossberg collected marbles, coins, comic books, baseball cards. He also remembers how much he enjoyed the frequent family outings to the great museums in his home state.

“I love the feeling of a museum,” said Schlossberg, a retired doctor who now lives in Buckhead.

It was only a matter of time before Schlossberg, now in his 60s, combined his natural interest in collecting with his passion for art. His enthusiasm brought him to the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art and to meet its director, Lloyd Nick.

On Sept. 25, the Oglethorpe museum launched its 2010-11 season with an exhibit of 19th-century French drawings and sculpture from the Schlossbergs’ collection.

French Consul Pascal Le Deunff chats with Rickey Bevington as they admire a watercolor by Rodin.

The exhibition, which will be on display through Dec. 12, consists of more than 100 rare pieces, many from the early careers of French artists such as Degas, Delacroix, Gauguin, Ingres, Pissarro, Renoir, Rodin, Seurat and others less known to the general public.

“This is one of the finest collections in this country,” Nick said. “I met Michael Schlossberg and his wife, Lana, about three years ago, when they came to see our Rodin exhibit here in our gallery. After that, we continued the relationship. This is a fraction of the vast collection they have at their home in Buckhead.”

French consul general to the Southeast and fellow Buckhead resident Pascal Le Deunff said he was happy to see Schlossberg’s willingness to share his enthusiasm for art with the community by lending part of his collection to the museum for display.

“I am also excited to see the American people embrace art from my country,” Le Deunff said. “We French are just as passionate as Schlossberg about art. Art is an activity considered very important in France. It is part of our culture, our history.”

Rickey Bevington, a member of the museum’s advisory board, said she was delighted to see Le Deunff, along with others from the area, attending the opening of the exhibit. “The board is thrilled to see so many locals here in our intimate setting,” she said.

One of those locals was Buckhead resident and Oglethorpe graduate Leonor Soriano, who selected Pissarro’s “The Family of the Artist” as her favorite piece in the show. “This drawing portrays the nucleus of the family,” she said. “It represents several generations sharing their time together.”

Buckhead residents and first-time visitors to the museum Nellie Axelroad and Debbie Riggsbee paused to contemplate Armand Point’s “Portrait of Madame Berthelot.”

“The woman in this composition looks very intriguing,” Axelroad said. “I also like it because it is by an artist I didn’t know.”

Collector Michael Schlossberg, at left, and Oglethorpe museum director Lloyd Nick take part in the opening of an exhbit of French art.

In addition to introducing the public to the classic pieces of several unknown artists, the patrons are also treated to the early work of the masters. Seurat’s early drawings offer viewers a glimpse of his rising interest in seascapes, which later became his trademark.

Nick said this exhibition demonstrates the museum’s interest in doing its part to recapture the value of good draftsmanship, which he said is rare in today’s world of digital imaging and computer drawing.

“Drawing is the single cord that connects all of us,” Nick said. “We can draw before we can read or write. Drawing is the basic expression of humans.”

For more information about the exhibit, visit www.oglethorpe.edu/museum.