Author Archives: William Blueher

We have a NEW blog!!!


incircDearest Highlights readers,

We are going to be publishing our blog in a new location on the Museum’s website! You can follow everything the Museum libraries are up to there, and also check out some of the Museum’s other blogs!

Our new blog, In Circulation, can be found at

Thanks for reading and enjoy our new blog!

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 on April 6, 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.

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!

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.


Frederick Stuart Church’s Animals

Last week we wrote about the 19th-century American landscape painter Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900). This week our focus is on another American artist who appears throughout the Digital Collections, Frederick Stuart Church (1842-1924). The latter Church was a well-known illustrator, particularly famous for his depictions of animals. In this thank you note written in 1910, one gets a sense of the playful charm of Church’s work.

FSChurchHighlightsA bespectacled yellow polar bear is handing an angry flamingo a note.  Any help deciphering what the message that accompanies this illustration says would be much appreciated – leave a comment or send an email if you have any success teasing out what this says.

The polar bear makes a few other appearances in letters from Church.  For instance, in two letters from Church to “Mr. Chambers,” both from the Manuscripts collection, the polar bear makes comical cameos.  In this letter, two polar bears peer curiously over a canvas as an artist sitting atop a “red hot” stove anxiously paints their portrait.

FSChurchHighlights1Beneath the stove Church has written, “I shall be glad when we can have some nice cool weather,” suggesting this might be a tongue-in-cheek self-portrait.

In another letter to Mr. Chambers, the polar bear appears yet again, this time with a top hat and cane.

FSChurchHighlights2Beneath the dancing bear Church has written, “Hurrah for Davey,” perhaps referring to Mr. Chambers, who, according to the letter, has just purchased a print from Church for $10.  Church writes, “Proceeds of the sale go to making womans vacation [indecipherable] – NY.” Unfortunately, we cannot make out that one crucial word, so again, if anyone out there would like to take a shot at deciphering this it would be much appreciated.

Finally, from the Macbeth Gallery Exhibition Catalogs, we have An exhibition of decorative panels of flowers, birds and animals by F. S. Church (1916).

FSChurchHighlights4Like the sketch of the artist painting the polar bears, here we have an artist/angel painting a bird. Birds, like polar bears, appear to have been a popular subject for Church, appearing as they do in 15 of the 20 works in this catalog.

Browse all this material here.


Connecting the Collections: Frederic Edwin Church

In a recent post on Eugène Delacroix, we discussed how certain artists appear in a number of various collections throughout the Digital Collections.  Another such artist is Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900), famed landscape painter of the Hudson River School. Works by and about him appear throughout the Digital Collections, some of which we’ll look at here.

ChurchHighlights1The above portrait of Church comes from a 1900 exhibition catalog in the Metropolitan Museum of Art Publications collection. This special exhibition, entitled Paintings by Frederic E. Church, was held at The Met from May 28-October 15, 1900 (the year Church died). Charles Dudley Warner, in his introduction to this catalog, wrote about the recently deceased artist, “In his spirit, his heroic cheerfulness, he was still young, hopeful of the world, the stanchest [sic] and most helpful of friends, and as clear and sweet in his Christian character as he was decided in his luminous rendition of the atmosphere of the distant mountains of his great pictures. He saw and felt the divinity in both worlds.”  In this catalog, many of these “luminous renditions” have been reproduced in black and white.


Then, in the Manuscripts collection, we have this letter from Church to artist and art dealer Samuel Putnam Avery (we also have a number of letters to Avery you can browse here).


Also, in the Rare Books in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries collection, we have a master’s thesis, Cultivating taste: Henry G. Marquand’s public and private contributions to advancing art in Gilded Age New York, by Adrianna M. Del Collo, in which Church is mentioned. (See this Highlights post for more on the Henry Gurdon Marquand Papers.)

There are two other large catalogs from the Metropolitan Museum Publications which feature a number of reproductions of Church’s works as well as critical and biographical writing on Church. One is Art and the Empire City: New York, 1825-1861, an exhibition held in 2000 at The Met. The other is American Paradise: The World of the Hudson River Schoola 1987 exhibition catalog featuring several works by Church, including the below painting “Above the Clouds at Sunrise” (1849):


Church, like many artists in our Digital Collections, appears in a number of different collections, from exhibition catalogs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art Publications collection to a letter in the Manuscript collection to a thesis in our Rare Books collection. We will continue to “connect the Collections” in future posts, focusing on artists and subjects represented in a number of different collections within the Digital Collections.