Monthly Archives: December 2013

Top 10 Most Popular Items of 2013

2013 has been a great year for the Digital Collections.  We got a new scanner, were interviewed about out work with Wikipedia, and created new collections like the Brummer Gallery Records. We’ve also seen a significant increase in usage over the last year, jumping from just over 135,000 pageviews in 2012 to over 500,000 in 2013!

To commemorate 2013, we’d like to share a list of the most popular items in the Digital Collections. All ten of the items come from the Metropolitan Museum of Art Publications collection.

#10 – Hatshepsut: from Queen to Pharaoh (2005).  This exhibition catalog had 1,782 pageviews.

High10#9 – Netsuke: masterpieces from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1981). This collection catalog had 1,807 pageviews.

High9#8 – Painters of reality: the legacy of Leonardo and Caravaggio in Lombardy (2004). This exhibition catalog had 1,839 pageviews.

High8#7 – Pieter Bruegel the Elder: drawings and prints (2001). This exhibition catalog had 2,048 pageviews.

High7#6 – German masters of the nineteenth century: paintings and drawings from the Federal Republic of Germany (1981). This exhibition catalog had 2,713 pageviews.

High6#5 – Age of spirituality: late antique and early Christian art (1979). This exhibition catalog had 3,610 pageviews.

High5#4 – A handbook of Chinese ceramics (1988). This collection catalog had 3,800 pageviews.

High4#3 – Prints & people: a social history of printed pictures (1971). This book had 3,965 pageviews.

High3#2 – Vermeer and the Delft school (2001). This exhibition catalog had 4,562 pageviews.

High2#1 – Leonardo da Vinci: anatomical drawings from the Royal Library, Windsor Castle (1983). This exhibition catalog had 7,286 pageviews (almost 20 pageviews a day!!).

High1Thanks for helping make this such a great year for the Digital Collections, and we’ll see you in 2014!

American Art Association Auction Catalogs, a Selection

Watson Library has been busy digitizing its collection of auction catalogs from New York’s esteemed American Art Association.  In existence from 1883-1929 (when it merged with Anderson Auction Company), the Association operated the American Art Galleries (originally located at 23rd Street then relocated to Madison Avenue and 56th Street), which hosted important public art exhibitions and sales, and helped promote American art in general.  Browsing through these digital collections gives the viewer an insight into the tastes of collectors during the Gilded Age.  Prominent individuals who sold their collections at the Galleries include Mary J. Morgan (second wife of Charles Morgan), Robert Walter Weir (artist and educator), Samuel Latham Mitchill Barlow (an American composer, pianist and art critic), and many more.

One highlight is the catalog of Tadama Hayashi’s collection of paintings, water colors, pastels, drawings and prints. Mr. Hayashi was born in Japan but spent the majority of his life in Paris, where he established an art firm.  He was passionate about the art of both the East and West.  He amassed his collection in part through exchanging Japanese art with the art of his friends (who included artists like Monet and Degas), both parties finding fascination in the works held by the other.  As a result of his unique position, he was made Chief Commissioner of the Japanese exhibit of the 1900 World’s Fair and, following its success, a Commander of the Legion of Honor by the French Government.  The exhibition of his collection opened on January 3rd, 1913, with the auction taking place on January 8th and 9th, and was described by the New York Times as “one of the most interesting exhibitions of the season”. Here is a Renoir from the catalog:

"Deux Filles," Auguste Renoir

“Deux Filles,” Auguste Renoir

And here is another by Michel Manzi:

"Portrait," Micehl Manji

“Portrait,” Michel Manzi

Another captivating catalog is that of William Merritt Chase’s private collection of paintings and water colors.  A prominent American artist, with works held by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Chase was also well-respected for his taste in and knowledge of art.  This unique collection comprises works from around the world which Chase selected irrespective of the renown (or lack thereof) of the creators. Chase did not buy art with the intention of reselling it and, in demonstrating his fondness for each picture, when asked which of these works were his favorites, responded “I have eight children, I love them all alike!”  Prior to the exhibition an art critic wrote “If the public does not take advantage of this sale and show its appreciation it will show that it does not care for good pictures”. One such picture is this still life:

Antoine Vallon, "Still Life"

“Still Life,” Antoine Vallon

Browse all the American Art Association catalogs here.

New Collection: The Brummer Gallery Records

Among the holdings of The Cloisters Archives are records of the Brummer Gallery of New York. It was founded by Joseph Brummer (1883-1947) in 1914 following the earlier establishment of a Paris gallery with his brother Ernest (1891-1964).

Joseph Brummer, 1925

Joseph Brummer, 1925

Until 1940, Ernest continued to run the Paris office and regularly export objects for sale in the New York branch. With the German invasion of Paris, he joined Joseph in New York where they ran the gallery together until Joseph’s death shortly after the war.

Ernest Brummer, (undated)

Ernest Brummer, (undated)

During the forty years that their Paris and New York galleries were operating, the Brummers were important sources of art objects for numerous museums and private collections throughout the U.S. and Europe. They dealt broadly in everything from classical antiquity to Modern Art, with significant focus on works of the Middle Ages, Pre-Columbian America, and Renaissance and Baroque decorative arts.

The digitized material from the collection primarily contains information on objects which were acquired through the New York and Paris galleries and sold in New York.  This includes more than 13,000 object cards—ordered by accession number—for each item purchased, including over 6,000 pieces exported from the Paris office.

N4002: Mexican mask in very hard gray-green stone. Open-baby mouth type. Has 8 holes. Aztec.

N4002: Mexican mask in very hard gray-green stone.

These 4×6” cards feature thumbnail photographs, names of sellers and buyers, purchase and sale prices, and, occasionally, condition information.

Accompanying the cards are four large binders with pages arranged by art era or medium, holding duplicates of the small object photos with accession numbers written below. These albums allow a researcher unequipped with the distinctive Brummer stock number to locate an item by its physical features. As well, the collection includes nearly 3500 address cards for clients, contemporary artists, staff, and service providers, which periodically note the purchase of or inquiries on specific objects.

Additional Brummer material is available for onsite consultation at The Cloisters Archives; please see the Finding Aid for the complete holdings.

Funding for the digitization of the Brummer collection was generously provided by The Kress Foundation.



Exploring New Guinea, 1910-1911

GoldHighlightsIn 1910-1911, a joint German-Dutch expedition traveled along the border between the two countries’ colonial territories on the island of New Guinea. The group started at the northern end of the island and traveled about 600 miles (960 km) up the Sepik River before turning back.

The leader of the German contingent, Leonhard Schultze Jena, also served as the topographer. He was accompanied by an astronomer and medical doctor, among others. Forschungen im Innern der Insel Neuguinea, the report of the expedition, is accompanied by over 70 plates of photographs, illustrations, and maps.

Several plates, such numbers 4445, include examples of masks, shields, and sculptures from the Sepik region. Although none of the works depicted in this report are at The Met, many similar objects can be found in the Museum’s collection.


GoldHighlights3The expedition also happened to coincide with Halley’s Comet’s passage by Earth, which happens once every 75-76 years.  Here is a photograph of the comet taken by Schultze Jena on May 21, 1910, as well as a corresponding image that highlights the comet’s tail.




Schultze Jena would go on to teach at the University of Marburg from 1913-1937 and is also well-known for his Maya and Aztec translations (footnote 1). Click here to see the publications by Schultze Jena held in the Goldwater Library.

This work is part of a collection of Rare Books from The Robert Goldwater Library.

(1) History of Cultural and Social Anthropology in Marburg,

METRO Interview on Wikipedia

In an interview with Metropolitan New York Library Council published last week, Watson Library’s William Blueher discussed how we’ve been adding links to relevant articles on Wikipedia to items in the Digital Collections.  The interview, titled “Wikipedia for Special Collections: A Conversation with Watson Library’s William Blueher,” discusses both what we’ve been doing with Wikipedia and how this initiative has helped to increase usage of the Digital Collections.


As discussed in two previous posts (here and here), Watson Library has been adding links to Wikipedia articles for just over a year.  At this point, we’ve edited over 1,500 articles (see William’s userpage to see some of the articles we’ve edited), and we’ve created a Wikipedia article “stub” on Watson Library. We’d love it if people wanted to expand on this stub, helping us flesh it out into a more robust article. As with all Wikipedia articles, everyone is free to contribute.  (See these 10 simple rules for editing on Wikipedia if you’re unsure how to start.)    

The following, excerpted from the interview, discusses the impace of this initiative:

We have been monitoring the success of this initiative by using Google Analytics. Over the last 30 days, we have had 14,898 visits to the Digital Collections.  Over the same period a year ago, we only had 4,928 visits.  This is an increase of over 200%, with nearly 10,000 more visits in a single 30-day period this year than last.

Of the 14,898 visits over the last 30 days, 57% were referred by Wikipedia (8,570), whereas a year ago, only 31% came from Wikipedia (1,552).  As we’ve put more into Wikipedia, it has referred more back out to us.

Here is a look at some of the data we see, taken from traffic to the site on November 19th:


On this particular day, Wikipedia drove over 62% of the traffic to the Digital Collections. This is just slightly higher than average, but it still illustrates the very positive impact this initiative has had on increasing usage of the Digital Collections.