Category Archives: Manuscripts

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.

The Samuel Putnam Avery Papers

Watson Library owns the Samuel Putnam Avery Papers, a collection which consists of autograph letters, sketches, two memorial albums, a scrapbook of engravings, and other types of documents.  Born in New York City, Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) was an art dealer, rare book and print collector, and wood engraver.  He was a founder and lifelong trustee of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Avery was also a keen collector of rare books, fine bindings, and nineteenth-century prints.  He was seminal in the establishment of a separate print room at the New York Public Library in 1900 and founded the Avery Architectural Library at Columbia University in 1890.

Avery’s work as an art dealer included the commissioning and collecting of American paintings, the sale of engravings, and the management of an art gallery that imported modern European art.  Our collection includes several letters sent to Avery from American artists, including James McNeill Whistler, John Trumbull, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase, Frederic Edwin Church, Jasper Francis Cropsey, Lockwood de Forest, Eastman Johnson, John La Farge, Asher B. Durand, and Charles Willson Peale.  In a letter from Frederic Edwin Church dated 1860, Church tells Avery that he has a proof of the “Andes” plate in its advancing state, referring to the painting now at The Museum known as Heart of the Andes.  Church ends his letter by writing, “I am no judge of such matters, but I think it is great in promise.”

F.E. Church letter to Samuel P. Avery, 1860 Nov. 21

F.E. Church letter to Samuel P. Avery

In 1867, Avery moved to Paris to assist with the Universal Exhibition and was thus put into contact with various French and German artists, including Ludwig Knaus, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Jules Breton, Jean-Léon Gérôme, and Ernest Meissonier.  In addition, in the 1870s, Avery took annual trips to Europe during which time he commissioned art for clients such as William Henry Vanderbilt, James Jerome Hill, William Wilson Corcoran, and Edwin Denison Morgan.  Our collection includes several documents reflecting Avery’s role as a dealer of European art, such as this 1874 receipt from Bouguereau acknowledging payment of 22,500 francs by Avery for Bouguereau’s painting, La Charité, exhibited at the Salon of 1874.

Receipt from William Bouguereau

Receipt from William Bouguereau

Our collection also includes two memorial albums which consist of illustrated autograph letters, sketches, receipts, and calling cards sent to Avery from prominent nineteenth-century painters, printmakers, and art historians, as well as condolence letters written to his family on the event of Avery’s death in 1904.  Below is a sketch and letter sent to Avery from Bouguereau dated 1874.


Bouguereau sketch


Bouguereau letter dated 1874

Our collection of Samuel Putnam Avery Papers also contains a scrapbook of sixty-one print proofs and commercial wood engravings by Avery, including book and magazine illustrations such as this one depicting life in New York.


Magazine illustration

It also includes advertisements like the following for the sale of family lots at the New York Bay Cemetery.



The scrapbook is bound in full red straight-grain morocco tooled in blind and gold, and the engravings are mounted on forty-eight leaves of colored paper.

This material can be found in both the Manuscripts and Rare Books in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries collections.

Havemeyer Family Papers: Phase 1

The Havemeyer Family Papers relating to Art Collecting, 1901-1922 collection includes letters, writings, notes, and ephemera regarding the Havemeyers’ art collecting activities between 1901 and 1922. The majority of the collection consists of correspondence to Louisine from art dealers and agents who were working on behalf of the Havemeyers to build their renowned art collection. There is also a significant portion of correspondence with the renowned American painter and printmaker Mary Cassatt.  Here is one such letter:

HavermeyerHighlightsJPGThe Havemeyer Papers are housed in The Metropolitan Museum Archives. As of July 2013, the 533 items of correspondence in the collection have been digitized and posted online; searchable transcripts will follow later in the second phase of the project.

Take a look at the entire finding aid here.

These letters are part of the Manuscripts collection.



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.

Henry Gurdon Marquand Papers

New York financier Henry Gurdon Marquand (1819-1902) was a member of the Provisional Committee to establish a museum of art in New York City (1869), an early Trustee of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1871-1902), Treasurer (1883-1889), and its second President (1889-1902). For over three decades Marquand spent his fortune carefully acquiring artwork to decorate his Madison Avenue mansion and to enlarge the Metropolitan’s then modest holdings. The Henry Gurdon Marquand Papers contain correspondence with artists and dealers, receipts, inventories, and notes that document his activity as an art collector and patron of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Click here to access the online finding aid for the collection.

The Marquand Papers are housed in The Metropolitan Museum Archives. All original items and their searchable transcripts are available online in this collection.

Marquand1Above is a telegram from landscape and genre painter George Henry Boughton to Marquand from the collection.