The Museum's collection of drawings and prints—one of the most comprehensive and distinguished of its kind in the world—began with a gift of 670 works from Cornelius Vanderbilt, a Museum trustee, in 1880. Today, its vast holdings, notable for an exceptional breadth and depth, comprise more than seventeen thousand drawings, 1.2 million prints, and twelve thousand illustrated books created in Western Europe and America, principally from the fifteenth century to the present.
Posted: Monday, June 30, 2014
Architect Josef Hoffman, painter Koloman Moser, and textile industrialist Fritz Waerndorfer founded the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshop) in 1903 as a cooperative for artists and artisans. The Wiener Werkstätte began publishing postcards in 1907 and continued until the beginning of World War I. The postcards were among the least expensive or luxurious of the Wiener Werkstätte's products, which included furnishings for the homes of Viennese aristocrats. Most of the designs were intended solely for the postcard format, while a few were reproductions of earlier paintings.
Posted: Monday, June 16, 2014
The year 2014 marks the five-hundredth anniversary of Albrecht Dürer's Melencolia I (1514), a masterpiece of engraving whose imagery has fascinated artists, historians, scientists, and mathematicians for centuries. In honor of this occasion, a small display of Melencolia and several works it influenced is on view through July 14 in the Robert Wood Johnson Jr. Gallery.
Posted: Monday, May 19, 2014
Published in Florence by Fra Lino Moroni in 1612, the Descrizione del Sacro Monte della Vernia (Description of the Sacred Mount Alverno) serves as a guide to Monte della Vernia (today known as La Verna) in the Tuscan Apennines. Monte della Vernia was the location where Saint Francis of Assisi retreated in 1224 for a forty-day period of fasting and meditation. It was there where he had the vision of an angel carrying the crucified Christ and experienced the stigmata.
Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2014
One might not consider engraving to be a particularly "colorful" medium. Made by impressing paper with an incised metal plate primed with a single color of ink—typically black—an engraving lacks the spectrum of chromatic options of other arts, like painting. But it can often be surprising, upon close inspection, just how much tonal nuance engraved pictures can contain.
Posted: Friday, April 11, 2014
Louis François Cassas's View of Messina Harbor is a fascinating recent addition to the continuously expanding collection of eighteenth-century drawings in the Department of Drawings and Prints. The pen and wash drawing offers an idyllic view of the main harbor in Messina, Sicily, before the earthquakes that devastated the Calabrian coast in February and March of 1783. This large-format drawing is currently on view in Gallery 690 until April 28 as part of a rotation of drawings and prints from the permanent collection.
Posted: Thursday, April 3, 2014
Published in 1979, the Supersisters trading cards were a playful, informative, and accessible way to spread feminism to younger audiences. The series was inspired by Lois Rich's daughter, an eight-year-old baseball-card collector, who asked why there weren't any pictures of girls on the cards. With a grant from the New York State Education Department, Lois Rich and her sister, Barbara Egerman, contacted five hundred women of achievement and created cards of the first seventy-two to respond.
Posted: Monday, March 24, 2014
Coinciding with the conservation treatment of the obelisk of Thutmose III in Central Park, the current exhibition Cleopatra's Needle focuses on this important Egyptian icon. Through various works of art from the Museum's encyclopedic collection, as well as some important loans from other institutions and private collectors, the show explores the meanings, functions, and manifestations of obelisks, both in their original context in ancient Egypt and later adaptations in western culture.
Posted: Thursday, February 20, 2014
Before the ease of cameras and social media, there was still the basic human urge to document our journeys, even if that journey was a work assignment from Napoleon. One exquisite example of such a "carnet de voyage," or travel sketchbook, survives intact from 1811 and was presented to the Museum in 2008 as a gift of the Apollo Circle in honor of Philippe de Montebello.
Posted: Tuesday, February 11, 2014
The Department of Drawings and Prints houses more than 1.2 million prints, dating from the Middle Ages through the present, and the collection is continually expanding. One recent and interesting addition is a rare print by the fifteenth-century German engraver and goldsmith Israhel van Meckenem depicting six religious scenes in roundels.
Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Brought to you by the Spectrum group, which encourages post-college audiences to experience the Met in new and unexpected ways, this post is the second installment of our new "Spectrum Spotlight" series—bringing you closer to the Met and introducing some of the staff members that make the Museum such a special place. Look for more posts throughout the year, and, of course, please attend Spectrum events!