Category Archives: Metropolitan Museum of Art Publications

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.




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.


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.

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 on April 6, 2014.

The First Decade of Met Publications

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 71 catalogs published between 1870-1879. The range of items published in this first decade of the Museum’s history includes official Museum documents, such as the Museum constitution and by-laws, lists of Museum trustees and members, annual reports, and a list of subscriptions to the fund for the establishment of the Museum. Also included are guides to the Museum’s collection, catalogs of the first loan exhibitions held at the Museum, and clippings which contain some of the first mentions of the Museum in the contemporary press.

Some of the catalogs published in this decade, such as the Guide to the Cesnola Collection of Antiquities, show the collection when it was housed at 128 West 14th street, the Museum’s location from 1873-1879.  Here is a floor plan of the ground floor at this location.

Image 1

Though most of these early catalogs are not illustrated, some contain critical or historical commentary on the objects, as well as reproductions of the artists’ signatures.  For instance, here is an entry describing Adriaan de Vries’s Portrait of a Dutch Gentleman from the Catalogue of the Pictures belonging to The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Image 2

Among the exhibition catalogs published in this decade is the Catalogue of the New York Centennial Loan Exhibition, which was held at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Academy of Design in 1876.

Image 3

Another item of interest is a Handbook published by the Museum for visitors wishing to learn more about the pottery and porcelain collection.  In addition to highlighting the collection, the handbook provides a brief explanation and history of the medium.

Image 4

The first decade of the Museum’s publication history also includes an Address, published in 1871, from the Museum officers to the people of New York outlining the purpose of the Museum and commending the institution to “… all who care for the fine arts.”

Image 5 These are part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Publications collection.

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.

Educational Programs and Listings

As evidenced by our Educational Programs and Listing collection, guides, maps, lectures and courses have been at the forefront of the Museum’s educational program since it opened to the public in the early 1870’s.

One of the earliest guides from 1875 takes visitors through the Museum’s pottery and porcelain collection.   A 1923 children’s program, Story-hours for members’children, has a lively roster of over twenty stories told to children with whimsical titles including “Winged caps and Wooden Shoes” and “Boys and Girls of Sun-Bright Spain”.

Story-hours for members' children

Story-hours for members’ children

Today, the Nolen Library greets thousands of children a year, six days a week for “Storytime,”conducted by staff members from across the museum, who read books that range from childhood classics such as, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle, to books about art, including Magritte’s Marvelous Hat, a Picture Book by D.B. Johnson and Vincent Colors: Words and Pictures by Vincent Van Gogh.

Family guides and maps have ranged in topic throughout the years and have included ones on women artists, mythical creatures, doors and doorways, tea sets, and medieval manuscripts.

Six women, six stories: family guide

Six women, six stories: family guide

Tea sets at The Metropolitan Museum of Art: a family guide

Tea sets at The Metropolitan Museum of Art: a family guide

A most unusual guide is Food and visual culture at the Metropolitan of Art, a clever gallery itinerary suggesting objects with culinary themes including the production, consumption and service of food of different periods and cultures.  For example, it includes a discussion of Edward Hopper’s Tables for Ladies and how the enticing fruit displayed in the window of the restaurant is in contrast to the reticence of the diners.


In addition to guides, there are also a number of family maps in the Digital Collections, including the most recent map illustrated by celebrated cartoonist, John Kerschbaum.


Illustrated map of the Museum

A poster puzzle, Kerschbaum’s award winning guide is a depiction of all the museum galleries with over five hundred objects that are currently on display rendered cartoon-style with visual humor.  According to Kerschbaum, the detailed map took him fours years to complete.  It was drafted on paper with ink and white out, then scanned and colored on the computer.  The actual size is 19” x 24” on Bristol board.
Last year, the Nolen Library and Teen programs invited John Kerschbaum to the Museum for an “ARText” event to lead a workshop for teens.  Kerschbaum discussed his experiences as an illustrator, after which teens visited the galleries and created their own illustrations of works of art that they saw.

This final image, appearing in a 1913 museum supplement to the Bulletin titled, The Museum and the Schools, is a rare glimpse of school children visiting the galleries accompanied by an essay, “If I Were You: A Museum Romance.”

From: The Museum and the schools

From: The Museum and the schools

The anecdote, written by a teacher from Missouri, recounts her experiences at the Met which are filled with praise.  She writes: “. . . my docent – was an indefatigable lady, refined and cordial, full of information on art, artists and curios . . . once you have seen this friendly docent, who seems eager to function, full of the feeling that she has intrusted to her riches that ought to be used, you see, when a piece of museum literature drifts your way, shining eyes of an invitation, and outstretched hands of welcome behind it . . . But chiefly we have learned that the museum and all it holds and stands for is ours” (found on page 9).

The same 1913 publication also contains reports and updates on educational programs, including this uplifting one: “Last year more teachers and their classes visited the Museum than ever before, and it is hoped that still more may come this year. The Museum desires to be of real service to this class of visitors, and to make every effort through its Instructor, class room, and lectures to meet the needs of all who find its collections helpful in teaching.”

All of this material can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries collection.

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.