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Fun Facts: The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide

Nadja Hansen, Editorial Assistant, Editorial Department

Posted: Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide 2013

«The Museum's new Guide highlights special works from each of our seventeen curatorial departments. Coming in at four hundred fifty-six pages and featuring almost six hundred works of art, it is the first new Guide to be published about the Museum in twenty-nine years. While reviewing the new publication, I discovered a few fun facts about the works of art from around the globe and across the centuries featured in its pages.»


Not Just Oil and Canvas

The guide features six hundred objects crafted from diverse materials that include gold, silver, glass, garnets, marble, wood, palm leaf, porcelain, ivory, diamonds, rubies, brass, leather, steel, textile, pearls, enamel, horn, copper, linen, iron, lacquer, shell, stone, ceramic, hair, feathers, mother-of-pearl, velvet, paper, jewels, vellum, jade, stonepaste, silk, yellow jasper, video, aluminum, alabaster, obsidian, faience, parinarium-nut paste, vinyl, polyester, lamé, cellophane, gauze, foil, sequins, rhinestones, taffeta, cotton, chiffon, satin, and tulle.

Fun Facts: The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide

Clockwise from top left: Lotiform Chalice, ca. 945–664 B.C. Egyptian, Third Intermediate Period, Dynasty 22–25. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1926 (26.7.971); Sesando, late 19th century. Indonesian. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889 (89.4.1489); Israel Schuech (German, active 1590–1610), and Juan Martinez (Spanish, active 16th to 17th century). Rapier of Prince-Elector Christian II of Saxony (detail), 1606. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Fletcher Fund, 1970 (1970.77); Drum, early 20th century. Ghanaian. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Raymond E. Britt Sr., 1977 (1977.454.17); Crib of the Infant Jesus, ca. 1400–1500. South Netherlandish. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Ruth Blumka, in memory of Leopold Blumka, 1974 (1974.121a–d); Christian Dior (French, 1905–1957). "Venus" (detail), fall/winter 1949–50. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Mrs. Byron C. Foy, 1953 (C.I.53.40.7a–e); Jean Tinguely (Swiss, 1925–1991). Narva, 1961. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Bequest of Gioconda King, by exchange, and The Louis S. and Mary Myers Foundation Gift, 2006 (2006.277a–fff)


Longest Work

Page 136: The "Simonetti" Carpet, ca. 1500. Egyptian, probably Cairo. 353 in. x 94 in. (8.97 x 2.39 m). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Fletcher Fund, 1970 (1970.105)


Smallest Work

Page 27: Cylinder Seal: Hunting Scene, ca. 2250–2150 B.C. Mesopotamian, late Akkadian period. H. 1 1/8 in. (2.8 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Bequest of W. Gedney Beatty, 1941 (41.160.192)


Oldest Work

Page 23: Storage Jar Decorated with Mountain Goats, ca. 3800–3700 B.C. Iranian, Chalcolithic period. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1959 (59.52)


Newest (Most Recently Created) Work

Page 435: El Anatsui (Ghanaian, born 1944). Dusasa II, 2007. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, The Raymond and Beverly Sackler 21st Century Art Fund; Stephen and Nan Swid and Roy R. and Marie S. Neuberger Foundation Inc. Gifts; and Arthur Lejwa Fund, in honor of Jean Arp, 2008 (2008.121)


Child Celebrities

Not counting angels or the Christ child, which are among the most frequently depicted figures, children appear fifty-eight times throughout the Guide. They are the focal point of works like Goya's Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuñiga (p. 275); appear with family members, as in Night Rain at the Double-Shelf Stand (p. 108) and Nikare with His Wife and Daughter (p. 40); or in the background, as in Breughel's The Harvesters (p. 251).

Top row (left to right): Goya (Francisco de Goya y Lucientes) (Spanish, 1746–1828). Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuñiga, (1784–1792) possibly after 1792. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Jules Bache Collection, 1949 (49.7.41); Suzuki Harunobu (Japanese, 1725–1770). Night Rain at the Double-Shelf Stand, from the series Eight Parlor Views (Zashiki hakkei), ca. 1766. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Francis Lathrop Collection, Purchase, Frederick C. Hewitt Fund, 1911 (JP698); Nikare with His Wife and Daughter, ca. 2420–2389 B.C. or after. Egyptian, Old Kingdom, Dynasty 5. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1952 (52.19). Bottom: Pieter Bruegel the Elder (Netherlandish, ca. 1525–1569). The Harvesters (detail), 1565. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1919 (19.164)


High Maintenance

Page 317 features the object with the most parts, a toilet set in its original leather case, comprising forty-eight distinct pieces. (Also of note: This vanity set belonged to the counts Schenk von Stauffenberg in Swabia, ancestors of Claus von Stauffenberg, the German officer and aristocrat executed in 1944 after an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Hitler.)

Fourteen identified German (Augsburg) goldsmiths and other German artisans, Japanese (Imari) porcelain maker. Toilet Set in Original Leather Case, ca. 1743–45. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation Gift, in memory of Stephen M. Kellen, 2005 (2005.364.1a–d–.48)


Royal Provenance

Nineteen of the objects featured in the book were previously owned by royalty, including a drop-front secretary belonging to Marie-Antoinette (p. 326), and the earliest dated example of a full suit of armor from Henry VIII's royal workshop (p. 162).

Left: Jean-Henri Riesener (French, 1734–1806). Drop-Front Secretary, 1783. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Bequest of William K. Vanderbilt, 1920 (20.155.11); Right: Decoration attributed to Hans Holbein the Younger (German, 1497/98–1543). Armor Garniture, Probably of King Henry VIII of England (reigned 1509–47), 1527. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, William H. Riggs Gift and Rogers Fund, 1919 (19.131.1, .2)


For Time Travelers

The book features fifteen period rooms, ranging from the completely intact Temple of Dendur (p. 58) to the Studiolo from the Ducal Palace in Gubbio (p. 301), and the Frank Lloyd Wright room (p. 382).

Top: Temple of Dendur in The Sackler Wing, Roman Period, ca. 15 B.C. Egyptian, Lower Nubia, Dendur. The Metropolitan Museum, New York, Given to the United States by Egypt in 1965, awarded to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1967, and installed in the Sackler Wing in 1978 (68.154). Bottom (left to right): Frank Lloyd Wright (American, 1867–1959). Window from Francis W. Little House, Wayzata, Minnesota, 1912–14. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Emily Crane Chadbourne Bequest, 1972 (1972.60.1); Designed by Francesco di Giorgio Martini (Italian, 1439–1501). Studiolo from the Ducal Palace in Gubbio, ca. 1478–82. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1939 (39.153)


Mythical Creatures

Mythical creatures are frequently represented throughout the Guide, with the sphinx making the most appearances. We counted nine overall (representing the Egyptian, Greek and Roman, and Islamic departments). There are also multiple dragons, unicorns, satyrs, harpies, mermaids, and mermen.

Top (left to right): Ewer with Wild Man Finial (detail), late 15th century. German, probably Nuremberg. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Cloisters Collection, 1953 (53.20.2); The Unicorn Is Found (from the Unicorn Tapestries) (detail), 1495–1505. South Netherlandish. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of John D. Rockefeller Jr., 1937 (37.80.2). Second row (left to right): Quillon from a Dagger Hilt, mid-15th century. Uzbekistanian. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Heber R. Bishop, 1902 (02.18.765); Jar with Dragon, 1426–35. Chinese, Jiangxi Province, Ming dynasty, Xuande mark and period. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Robert E. Todd, 1937 (37.191.1). Third row: Michele Todini (Italian, 1616–1689). Harpsichord, ca.1670. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889 (89.4.2929a–e). Bottom (left to right): André-Charles Boulle (French, 1642–1732). Commode (detail), ca. 1710–20. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Jack and Belle Linsky Collection, 1982 (1982.60.82); Sphinx of Amenhotep III, ca. 1390–1352 B.C. Egyptian, New Kingdom, Dynasty 18. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1972 (1972.125); Filippo Negroli (Italian, ca. 1510–1579). Burgonet, 1543. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.190.1720)


Of Arms, and the Man

Virgil's Aeneid is the most commonly featured secular narrative (six works, both ancient and modern). War, the hunt, and the cosmos are among the most frequently depicted broader themes.

Claude Lorrain (Claude Gellée) (French, 1604/5?–1682). The Trojan Women Setting Fire to Their Fleet, ca. 1643. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Fletcher Fund, 1955 (55.119)


Find the Artist

There are five self-portraits, not including three subtle examples: In View from Mount Holyoke (p. 362), Thomas Cole—visible in the foreground with his easel and umbrella—pauses to glance at the viewer as he paints the landscape spread out before him. Picasso appears as a harlequin in At the Lapin Agile (p. 399), a painting he made for the interior of the eponymous Montmarte cabaret. In The Champion Single Sculls (Max Schmitt in a Single Scull) (p. 372), Thomas Eakins is seen rowing in the middle distance.

Four portraits showcase artists as depicted by other artists, among them Georges Seurat's Portrait of Edmond François Aman-Jean—the first Seurat to be publically exhibited (p. 233)—and Alfred Stieglitz's photograph of his wife, Georgia O'Keeffe (p. 444).

Top (left to right): Thomas Cole (American, 1801–1848). View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm—The Oxbow (detail), 1836. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Mrs. Russell Sage, 1908 (08.228); Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973). At the Lapin Agile (detail), 1905. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg Collection, Gift of Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg, 1992, Bequest of Walter H. Annenberg, 2002 (1992.391). Bottom: Thomas Eakins (American, 1844–1916). The Champion Single Sculls (Max Schmitt in a Single Scull) (detail), 1871. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, The Alfred N. Punnett Endowment Fund and George D. Pratt Gift, 1934 (34.92)


Superlatives and Rarities

  Page 173: The oldest piano in existence, and one of only three that survive from the workshop of the inventor of the piano, Bartolomeo Cristofori.
 
 
  Page 266: The first Vermeer to enter the United States, Young Woman with a Water Pitcher.
 
 
  Page 159: The only yoroi, a type of tenth- to fourteenth-century Japanese cavalry armor, in an American collection. Very few survive today.
 
 
  Page 295: Gaugin's first major Tahitian canvas.
 
 
  Page 69: The most complex surviving carved amber from ancient Italy.
 
 
  Page 224: The first western European prints to give landscape pride of place as a subject rather than background.
 
 
  Page 408: The only complete French art nouveau interior in an American museum.
 
 
  Page 405: Bird in Space, the first of a series that preoccupied Brancusi for two decades.
 
 
  Page 214: The first manuscript commissioned by Jean de Berry from the Limbourg brothers, The Belles Heures of Jean de France is perhaps the only virtually complete and stylistically consistent prayer book to survive from the Duc de Berry's extraordinary library.


For Knights Templar

When the Antioch Chalice featured on page 180 was discovered in the early 1900s, it was believed by many to be the Holy Grail.

The Antioch "Chalice," ca. 500–550. Byzantine. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Cloisters Collection, 1950 (50.4)


For the History Buff

The solid gold sword on page 167 was given by the United States Congress to General John E. Wool for his gallantry in the Mexican War (1846–48).

Samuel Jackson (American, active 1833–70). Congressional Presentation Sword of Major General John E. Wool (detail), probably 1854. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger and Mr. and Mrs. Robert A. Goelet Gifts, 2009 (2009.8a–c)


Mummies

Several of the Museum's coffins still contain mummies, but the one featured on page 54—of the ritual singer Henettawy, who died at age twenty-one—does not.

Coffin of Henettawy, ca. 1010–945 B.C. Egyptian, Third Intermediate Period, Dynasty 21. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1925 (25.3.182a, b)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide is available for purchase at The Met Store, with availability in English, Chinese, Japanese, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian. Editions in Korean, Russian, and German coming soon.

 

Comments

  • Joan McKniff says:

    The book promo to top all book promos! More seriously, what a window into the encyclopedic treasures of the Met! The tools, resources, treats, and programs you provide in hard copy and on line to people around the world is so important and so appreciated. Thank you.

    Posted: July 26, 2013, 1:48 p.m.

  • Bryan says:

    This is a cool guide

    Posted: April 23, 2014, 3:10 p.m.

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About the Author

Nadja Hansen was formerly an editorial assistant in the Editorial Department.

About this Blog

Now at the Met offers in-depth articles and multimedia features about the Museum's current exhibitions, events, research, announcements, behind-the-scenes activities, and more.