Monthly Archives: February 2014

Connecting the Collections: Honoré Daumier

In honor of Honoré Daumier’s birthday (he was born February 26th, 1808), we would like to highlight various works in the Digital Collections relating to this great French printmaker, caricaturist, painter and sculptor.

We’ll begin with this 1993 exhibition catalog from the Metropolitan Museum of Art Publications collection, Daumier drawings. The catalog “accompanie[d] an exhibition at the Stadel Museum, Frankfurt, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, offering the most extensive display of Daumier’s drawings since the Paris retrospectives of 1901 and 1934. Featuring about 150 works from twenty of the world’s foremost museums and from private collections, it includes casual sketches produced by the artist to vent his restless imagination as well as many of the highly finished watercolors he designed as formal presentations of his art.” Here is the catalog’s cover:

Cat. no. 116. "Street Show"

Cat. no. 116. “Street Show”

This black chalk and watercolor image, “Street Show,” is owned by the Met. The catalog descriptions begins, “In this double portrait, Daumier presented a kind of synthesis of the two familiar motifs of the sideshow and the solitary saltimbanque.” This catalog, like everything else in the Digital Collections, can be viewed in its entirety online or downloaded and read as a full-text searchable PDF.

We also have a number of Daumier-related items in our Rare Books in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries collection. For instance, there are two exhibition catalogs from the Kraushaar Gallery (see this earlier post about other catalogs from this gallery), one of etchings and lithographs by Daumier and another with lithographs by both Daumier and Toulouse-Lautrec. In the latter, the lithograph “Le supplice de Tantale” is reproduced:

from "Exhibition of etchings by J.L. Forain and lithographs by Honoré Daumier and Toulouse-Lautrec"

from “Exhibition of etchings by J.L. Forain and lithographs by Honoré Daumier and Toulouse-Lautrec”

And here’s the cover to a 1922 exhibition of his etchings and lithographs:

from "Locatiares et proprietaires by Honore Daumier : ... an important collection of etchings and lithographs by Honore Daumier"

from “Locatiares et proprietaires by Honoré Daumier”

Finally, in our Manuscripts collection, we have this undated letter from Daumier himself:

Honore Daumier autograph letter to Heinbeil, undated

Honoré Daumier autograph letter to Heinbeil, undated

Unlike many of the printed works in the Digital Collections, most of the items in our Manuscripts collection are not full-text seachable because  OCR software (Optical Character Recognition) is not able to read handwritten works.  So, if anyone out there has any interest in transcribing this letter, we would greatly appreciate the help.

With that we’d like to wish this great artist a happy birthday, and encourage you all to look through our Digital Collections to discover more material on Daumier.

Fit for a Tsar: Adrian Prakhov’s Volyn Expedition Album

Rare Books Published in Imperial and early Soviet Russia is a collection of books that have been digitized by Watson Library, that were published primarily in Russia or Ukraine in the nineteenth or early twentieth century. The collection encompasses a wide array of themes and formats, ranging from albums of photographs, illustrated books, exhibition catalogs, and catalogs of private and institutional collections. While most of the works are focused on art created in Russia, the collection also includes catalogs of European and Ancient art, exhibited or held in Russian or Ukrainian collections.

Title page from sixteenth century manuscript Apostolos from the Zagorovskii monastery in Vladimiro-Volynsk, copied by G. K. Boguslavskii

16th century Apostolos

Among the highlights of this collection are several albums from the library of Alexander III, Emperor of Russia from 1845-1894, of original photographs of religious architecture, objects, and works of art, from various places throughout the Russian Empire. One example, Alʹbom fotografīĭ k arkheologicheskoĭ poiezdkie professora A.B. Prakhova na Volynʹ v 1886 godu [Album of photographs from the archeological trip made by Professor A.V. Prakhov in Volynʹ in 1886], is particularly distinctive.

Adrian Viktorovich Prakhov (1846-1916) was a Russian art historian, known primarily for his efforts and interest in the preservation and conservation of Old Russian art and architecture. From 1880 through 1889, Prakhov directed the conservation and restoration of 12th century frescoes in the Church of St. Cyril of Alexandria in Kiev, and from 1884 through 1896, the interior decoration of St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral in Kiev. Among the artists that Prakhov enlisted to assist with the projects are such star talents of Russian painting as Mikhail Vrubel, Viktor Vasnetsov, and Mikhail Nesterov. Prakhov’s other accomplishments include serving as editor of the arts section of the magazine, Pchela [The Bee], from 1875 through 1878, and succeeding Alexandre Benois as the editor of the journal, Khudozhestvennyia sokrovishcha Rossii [Art Treasures of Russia], from 1903 through 1907.

Assumption Cathedral (Uspenskii Sobor), Volodymyr-Volynsky, Ukraine

Assumption Cathedral, Volodymyr-Volynsky

In the introduction to the present album, Prakhov notes that in 1886, he visited the Volyn region of modern-day Ukraine (Volhynia), in conjunction with two prospective restoration projects: a wooden church within a monastery in the village of Zymne dating back to the 11th century, and Assumption Cathedral (Uspenskii Sobor) in the city of Volodymyr-Volynsky, which had been built by Mstyslav Izyaslavovych in 1160, and collapsed in 1829. Toting a travel camera, Prakhov journeyed to other villages and cities throughout the region, documenting “everything that seemed worthy of attention” in places such as Liuboml’, Radekhiv, Budiatychi, Nyzkynychi, the Zagorovskii monastery, Zaturtsi, Kovel’, Lutsk, Dubno, Ostrog, Pochaivs’ka lavra, Dermanskii monastery, and Novyi Malin.

Jewish synagogue in Liubart Castle, Lutsk

Jewish synagogue in Liubart Castle, Lutsk

Prakhov’s primary focus is religious art and architecture, and the album showcases relics and architectural remnants from a wide span of time periods and religions. While Prakhov and the expedition’s sponsor, Alexander III, were noted proponents of Russian Orthodoxy, he explains in the introduction that he decided that the album should present a complete picture of the breadth of historical and contemporary indigenous “nationalities” and religious practices of the region, which is why it includes images representing Roman-Catholicism and “followers of Mosaic Law.”

Detail of green velvet church vestment, from Nyzkynychi monastery

Church vestment, Nyzkynychi monastery

Altogether there are 59 photographs in the album, each of which is accompanied by a descriptive, letterpress caption. Among the photographs are: fresco fragments from Assumption Cathedral (Uspenskii sobor); bindings and pages from church manuscripts and miniatures; church vestments and liturgical objects; and sacred icons such as the miracle-working Mother of God of Pochayiv lavra. The album also includes a number of city views, and interior and exterior photographs of churches, cathedrals, monasteries, and a synagogue.

Uniat liturgical objects from  the Pochayiv sacristy, eighteenth century

Uniat objects, 18th century

Mother of God of Pochayiv lavra

Mother of God of Pochayiv lavra

While this is the only album in the Rare Books Published in Imperial and early Soviet Russia collection that offers a photograph of an eighteenth century  silver-gilt vessel in the form of a snail, anyone interested in additional images of Old Russian art and architecture will certainly find browsing the collection to be worthwhile.

Silver-gilt vessel in the form of a snail, eighteenth century

Silver-gilt snail vessel

Digitization on Demand

The Interlibrary Services department at Watson Library supports the research activities of Metropolitan Museum of Art staff by obtaining books, print or electronic copies of journal articles and other texts that are not available in the Museum’s libraries.  Interlibrary Services also supports the research needs of colleagues around the world by lending our materials or providing digital scans when possible.

Periodically, requests are received for items that, due to age or condition, are not be able to travel.  Since September 2011, Interlibrary Services has been digitizing these items rather than canceling the borrowing library’s request.  This initiative has been named “digitization on demand” because the items that are digitized have not already been pre-selected for digitization.

One example of an item that was digitized on demand, The Eglinton Tournament: dedicated to the Earl of Eglinton, 1839, came in as a loan request from the Wells Library at Indiana University:

Title page

Title page

According to WorldCat, this item, published in 1839, is only available in six libraries (three of which are in the US).  This fascinating account of a tournament held at a castle in North Ayrshire, Scotland will be of interest to scholars studying chivalry, arms and armor, lithographs and related subjects.

The work begins with a detailed textual account of the tournament, followed by nine plates of lithographs that capture spectators viewing the event, various tournament battles, and scenes from the post-tournament ball.


The Lord of the Tournament as Victor Presented to the Queen of Beauty


The Melee at the Eglinton Passage of Arms


Ball Room at Eglinton Castle

Other Interlibrary Services requests that have been filled by the digitization on demand initiative include:

These books are now available to all our users in the Rare Books in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries collection.

The digitization on demand program supports the “Watson Library Digitization Initiative to expand access to the Library’s rare and unique materials by developing, supporting, and promoting a distinctive digital collection of these items” and by making “them accessible to support the scholarly endeavors of Metropolitan Museum of Art staff and an international community of researchers” as stated on the Digital Collections homepage.