Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Fourth Decade of Met Publications, 1900-1909

This installment of “Decades of Met Publications” will examine a selection of items published by the Met between 1900 and 1909. There are 42 publications in the Digital Collections from this period, including collection catalogs, exhibition catalogs, lectures and annual reports.

Catalogs for the Museum’s collection of paintings make up a quarter of the publications represented. In the first half of the decade, editions of the Catalogue of the Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art discuss the founding of the Museum and describe the paintings and their locations in the Museum at the time of publication. A corresponding map of the second floor of the building illustrates the layout of the galleries, as well as the site of the library, which was then located in the southeast corner of the Museum.

Plan of the Museum

Plan of the Museum

The map from a 1905 edition includes an expansion that was completed in 1902, which is now notably recognized as the Great Hall and the Grand Staircase.

Museum expansion

Museum expansion

In 1905, the catalog was also expanded to include illustrations of select paintings and entitled Illustrated Catalogue: Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. One such painting is John Singer Sargent’s “Portrait of Henry G. Marquand.”

Portrait of Henry G. Murquand

Portrait of Henry G. Murquand

Marquand (1819-1902) was involved in the earliest stages of the Museum’s establishment and later became its second President. The Henry Gurdon Marquand Papers are held in the Museum’s archives and can be accessed online through the Digital Collections.

Arthur Hoeber’s The Treasures of the Metropolitan Museum of Art provides an overview of the entire scope of the Museum’s collections and organization at the turn of the century. The introduction also provides a rendering of the Beaux-Arts façade from the 1902 east wing addition illustrated in the above map.

Rendering of the Beaux-Arts façade from the 1902

Rendering of the Beaux-Arts façade from the 1902

In these catalogs, one will notice that the arrangement of the galleries was at times dictated by the bequests of donors, who specified that their gifts be displayed together. In 1906, noted artist, critic and then Curator of Paintings at the Met, Roger E. Fry advocated for loosening these requirements in An Outline of the Aims and Ideals Governing the Department of Paintings.

 

Cover

Cover

A final item of interest, Photographic Department of a Modern Museum, describes the department’s work recording objects in the collection through the medium of photography. The department and its work are illustrated in a series of photographs. The page below includes a photograph of two staff members arranging objects to be photographed.

4

The book also advertises the availability of all photographs for purchase in a variety of sizes. Today, the Museum makes photographs of objects in the collection available online through the Collections Database where high-resolution images can be downloaded for free. Alternatively, visitors can snap their own photographic souvenirs on visits to the permanent collection galleries.

To see more Museum publications, visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art Publications collection.

American Art Association Auction Catalogs, a Selection II

During the Gilded Age, an association was formed in New York City with the goal of promoting and selling American art: The American Art Association. Its founders were James F. Sutton, R. Austin Robertson and Thomas E. Kirby.  The Association – formed in 1883 – held auctions beginning in 1885. In 1922, it opened the American Art Gallery.  In 1929, the AAA merged with the Anderson Auction Company forming the American Art Association-Anderson Galleries; and in 1938, it was taken over by Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc. which was bought by Sotheby’s in 1964.

Watson Library has digitized over two-hundred American Art Association auction catalogs dating from its inception in 1885 through 1927.  The catalogs represent not only American art, including an emphasis on the Barbizon school masters, but also works by major European and Asian artists.  Subject areas include: Old Masters of Dutch and Italian schools, impressionist and modern painting, miniatures, porcelain, engravings, antique and modern furniture, European arms and armor, jewelry and silver.

 Milliken sale index

The Milliken sale held on February 14th, 1902, is a good example of the scope of important modern European artists represented in the American Art Association auction catalogs.  The index for the sale includes such prominent French painters as Eugéne Delacroix (1798-1863), Edgar Degas (1834-1917), Édouard Manet (1832-1883) and Jean François Millet (1814-1875).

Press clippings from Milliken sale

Press clippings from Milliken sale

Press clippings from this auction announce the “excellent prices” in sales including Titian’s (ca. 1485/90?–1576) Portrait of Giorgio Cornaro (1537) which sold for $42,000, and Camille Corot’s (1796-1875) St. Sebastian (1851) which sold for $20,000.

"Allée of Chestnut Trees," Alfred Sisley (1878); © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

“Allée of Chestnut Trees,” Alfred Sisley (1878); © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Other works by renowned European artists sold by the American Art Association include Alfred Sisley’s (1839-1899) Allée of Chestnut Trees, 1878, which was up for sale in the January 8-9th, 1913 American Art Association auction catalog and eventually bought by Robert Lehman in 1948 and given to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1978 as part of Lehman’s bequest.  The owner of this collection was Tadamasa Hayashi (1853-1906), an important ambassador for Japanese culture in France, who moved to Paris in 1878 and introduced traditional Japanese art to Europe.

In addition to provenance, the AAA catalogs are valuable for their annotations, such as the one included here for the Sisley painting noting price and buyer.

 

Annotated catalog

Annotated catalog

In addition to major European artists, the auction catalogs also represent important American artists such as William Merrit Chase (1949-1916), George Inness (1825-1894), Eastman Johnson (1824-1906) and John Frederick Kensett (1816-1872).  Lesser known American artists include Frederic A. Bridgman (1847-1928), born in Tuskegee, Alabama and known for his Orientalist paintings.

Decorative works, salon pictures, eastern subjects and drawings by Frederic A. Bridgman

Decorative works, salon pictures, eastern subjects and drawings by Frederic A. Bridgman

Another lesser known artist was Ralph Albert Blakelock (1847-1919), a romanticist painter born in New York City.

 

From "Catalogue of modern paintings: the private collection formed by the late Frederick S. Gibbs"

From “Catalogue of modern paintings: the private collection formed by the late Frederick S. Gibbs”

The Met owns several Blakelock landscape paintings including A Waterfall, Moonlight (1886)

“A Waterfall, Moonlight,” Ralph Albert Blakelock (1886)

The provenance for this work includes it being sold in an American Art Association sale held on January 20th, 1911.

In addition to the thousands of important works exhibited and sold by the American Art Association from the late nineteenth century up to the 1920’s, it is fascinating to see the many important American collectors both buying and selling in these auctions, reflecting the prosperity of the Gilded Age and the enthusiasm for current American and European art sold and disseminated during this thriving period of modern art.

To read about other American Art Association auction catalogs, see this Highlights post.

The Second Decade of Met Publications: 1880-1889

Watson Library has digitized the catalogs of the permanent collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art from its very beginnings in 1870 through 1949, with a selection of later titles.  The collection is being added to and will ultimately include collection catalogs through 1964.

There are 55 items published between 1880-1889.  The types of items published in this second decade of the Museum’s history include catalogs of and guides to the Museum’s permanent collection, catalogs of objects loaned to the Museum, and official Museum documents, such as annual reports.

One permanent collection catalog from this decade is The Johnston Collection of Engraved Gems, presented to the Museum in 1881 by its president, Mr. John Taylor Johnston, and installed in what was then called the Grand Hall.  The catalog’s introductory note, seen below, provides a brief description and history of the collection.

Johnston collection of engraved gems

Johnston collection of engraved gems

Other important catalogs from this time include those documenting the Museum’s Cesnola collection of Cypriote antiquities, covering both pottery and sculpture.  Though largely unillustrated, the catalog of sculptures does contain a map of Cyprus from 1877.

Map of Cyprus from 1877

Map of Cyprus from 1877

One catalog containing a notable illustration is entitled Pictures by Old Masters, which includes works both belonging and loaned to the Museum in 1882 and displayed in its east gallery.  This illustration is of Raphael’s Madonna Dei Candelabri, and is followed in the catalog by an interesting essay discussing the work’s provenance.

Raphael’s "Madonna Dei Candelabri"

Raphael’s “Madonna Dei Candelabri”

 

Provenance of Raphael’s "Madonna Dei Candelabri"

Provenance of Raphael’s “Madonna Dei Candelabri”

An interesting document from this second decade of the Museum’s history is one which delineates the ceremonies which took place at the 1888 inauguration of one of the first additions to the Museum’s original Central Park structure of 1880.  Plans of the newly expanded first and second floors of the Museum can be seen below.

First floor

First floor

Second floor

Second floor

Lastly, materials from this period also include the prospectus of the Technical and Art Schools of the Museum, from 1880 and 1888-1889 respectively.  The Technical Schools offered classes in house, sign, and decorative painting, turning and woodcarving, carriage drafting and construction, and industrial art, as well as trade-specific classes in drawing, designing, modeling, and carving.  The proclaimed aim of this school was to “… make first-class workmen who can earn a living by their trade.”

The Museum’s Art Schools offered classes in design, modeling, color, freehand, architectural and perspective drawing, chasing and hammered metal work, and painting on china.  Their aim was to offer instruction particularly to those individuals “… who desire to acquire an artistic education applicable to Industrial and Commercial uses.”  Here is a page from the Art Schools’ prospectus with a description of classes, their schedule and fees, and the instructors’ names.

Art Schools’ prospectus

Art Schools’ prospectus

Notably, the Art Schools’ prospectus ends with the statement that if a class in bookbinding is found practical, one will be formed at the commencement of the school year.

All these items are part of the much larger Metropolitan Museum of Art Publications collection.

 

Connecting the Collections: Édouard Manet

Édouard Manet (1832-1883) is a seminal figure in 19th century French painting. Two works from 1863 — “Le déjeuner sur l’herbe” and “Olympia” — caused great controversy but also earned him the esteem of many other young French artists (such as Courbet, Cézanne, Monet and Gauguin). He continued to inspire and infuriate throughout his career, and is now regarded as one of the great artistic figures of his time.

The Digital Collections has a significant amount of material relating to Manet, material that spans across a number of collections. For instance, in the Manuscripts collection we have a letter titled, “E. Manet letter to ‘Mon cher Duret’, undated”:

Manet to Duret

Manet to Duret

The “cher Duret” being addressed here is the art critic, collector, and dealer Théodore Duret (1838-1927). Duret was an early advocate and supporter of the Impressionists, and an ally and friend of Manet’s. In 1868, Manet painted a portrait of his friend, which is now owned by the Petit Palais in Paris. Manet received a letter of thanks for the portrait from Duret that amusingly said, “I find your chap very gallant.” (1)

In our Metropolitan Museum of Art Publications collection, we have a 2003 exhibition catalog titled, Manet and the American Civil War: the battle of the U.S.S. Kearsarge and the C.S.S. Alabama:

Manet and the American Civil War

Manet and the American Civil War

In a press release available on the Met’s website about this exhibition, it says, “In June of 1864, an important episode in the American Civil War took place in international waters off the coast of Cherbourg, France. The duel between the U.S.S. Kearsarge and the C.S.S. Alabama created a sensation in Europe and America alike, and caught the imagination of the French artist Édouard Manet (1832-83), who made a painting of the battle before rushing to Boulogne to see the victorious Kearsarge. The Metropolitan Museum of Art recently acquired Manet’s portrait of the Kearsarge and to celebrate the acquisition will present a small exhibition devoted to the battle, Manet’s response, and the effect of Manet’s paintings on his immediate friends.”

From the Knoedler and Company Exhibition Catalogs collection, we have another exhibition catalog, Exhibition of nineteenth century French painters: at the galleries of M. Knoedler & Company, June 26 to July 21, 1923:

Exhibition of nineteenth century French painters

Exhibition of nineteenth century French painters

Though not devoted exclusively to the work of Manet, nine works of Manet’s were exhibited, and this catalog includes handwritten notes next to six of these paintings. For instance, next to catalog number 23, “Fillette à sa Toilette,” there is a pencil drawn arrow pointing to the number and the word “new” written next to it.

Finally, in our Auction Catalogs collection, we have, Catalogue de tableaux, pastels, études, dessins, gravures par Édouard Manet, et dépendant de sa succession: dont la vente aura lieu Hôtel Drouot, salles nos 8 et 9, les lundi 4 et mardi 5 février 1884, à deux heures:

Vente Manet, February 1884

Vente Manet, February 1884

This auction took place from Monday, February 4th to Tuesday, February 5th at Hôtel Drouot in Paris. In addition to a list of items sold, there are handwritten price notes by many of the items in the catalog.

To browse more material related to Manet in the digital collections, click here.

(1) Portrait of Théodore Duret. Retrieved from http://www.petitpalais.paris.fr/en/collections/portrait-theodore-duret on April 6, 2014.

Macbeth Gallery Exhibition Materials

40 years of American art

40 years of American art

A collaborative project to digitize the exhibition checklists and pamphlets of the Macbeth Gallery, held by the Thomas J. Watson Library at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Frick Art Reference Library, was completed in 2008.  The combined collection numbers over 450 unique items published between 1895 and 1953.

The Macbeth Gallery was the first New York gallery to specialize in American art and is historically important for exhibiting work by many American artists well-known to us today, including Charles H. Davis, Childe Hassam, Winslow Homer, and Andrew Wyeth.  In addition to solo exhibitions, many group shows were held at the Macbeth Gallery in the early 20th century – several would have a profound impact on the development and appreciation of American art.

Andrew Wyeth

Andrew Wyeth

One particularly well-known exhibition is one held in February 1908, Exhibition of paintings by Arthur B. Davies, William J. Glackens, Robert Henri, Ernest Lawson, George Luks, Maurice B. Prendergast, Everett Shinn, John Sloan—these artists became known as “The Eight.” The exhibition’s intent was to challenge the dominance of the National Academy; it “received an immense amount of publicity and instantly entered into art history as a successful assault on tradition.” (1)

Exhibition of paintings

Exhibition of paintings

Due to their art historical importance, the Macbeth Gallery materials have been frequently used at Watson Library and the Frick, but they are also rapidly deteriorating. Much of the material was printed on highly acidic paper that is now very brittle, so it made sense from both service and preservation perspectives to move forward with the project before the checklists became damaged beyond repair. This Chauncey F. Ryder exhibition checklist from 1910 is one example of the damage sustained by some of the original items.

In the valley at Assissi

Chauncey Ryder

This project provides a more complete picture of Macbeth Gallery exhibition activity and complements the Archives of American Art’s effort to catalog their collection of Macbeth Gallery records and papers.

We are grateful to the Frick Art Reference Library and to our funding source, the Lifchez-Stronach Preservation Fund for the Thomas J. Watson Library, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, for their contributions in making this project a reality.

(1) Stephanie Ashley, Erin Corley and Jetta Samulski. Finding aid to the Macbeth Gallery scrapbooks, 1892-1952, in the Archives of American Art. Retrieved from http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/macbeth-gallery-records-9703/more on March 26, 2014.