Tag Archives: Decades of Met Pubs

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.

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.

 

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.