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Now at the Met

Vernal Splendor: Kano Sansetsu's Old Plum

Aaron Rio, Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellow, Department of Asian Art

Posted: Thursday, June 18, 2015

In Kano Sansetsu's Old Plum—currently on view in the exhibition Discovering Japanese Art: American Collectors and the Met—a wizened plum tree stirs in the cold of early spring. At lower right, its buckled trunk rises near pillar-like rocks and a thicket of bamboo grass (sasayabu) before stretching to the left, heaving and gyrating its way across a sixteen-foot expanse of gold foil. Green lichen clings to its knotty trunk and icy white blossoms open on its fragile twigs, frozen stiff against the gold.

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Now at the Met

The Jabach Portrait: An Extraordinary Acquisition

Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO

Posted: Thursday, June 11, 2015

I often remind people that when the Met was founded in 1870, it did not own a single work of art. The collection that we know and love today is the collective achievement of many collectors and donors—private citizens determined to share their passion for art with the public. The giant names—J.P. Morgan, Louisine and H.O. Havemeyer, Benjamin Altman, Robert Lehman, Charles and Jayne Wrightsman, Walter Annenberg, and most recently Leonard Lauder—join hundreds of others who were, and are, profoundly generous in supporting the development of our collection.

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Now at the Met

Installing Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas: A Behind-the-Scenes Look

Kurt Behrendt, Associate Curator, Department of Asian Art ; Kristine Kamiya, Associate Conservator, Department of Textile Conservation; and Matthew Cumbie, Conservation Preparator, Department of Objects Conservation

Posted: Friday, June 5, 2015

During the earliest stages of conceptualizing the Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas exhibition, on view through June 14, I went through the Metropolitan Museum's holdings and came across a stunning body of jewelry that came to the collection in 1915. As the Department of Asian Art is celebrating its centennial this year, I was excited to have the opportunity to present the very first Himalayan works to come into our collection—the first of many works acquired beginning exactly one hundred years ago.

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Now at the Met

Now on View: A Portrait Bust of Emperor Domitian

Christopher S. Lightfoot, Curator, Department of Greek and Roman Art

Posted: Friday, June 5, 2015

In June, the Department of Greek and Roman Art's fine bronze portrait bust of an aristocratic Roman boy goes on display in The Toledo Museum of Art in Toledo, Ohio. The sculpture, originally affixed to a herm of wood or stone, was made by a gifted craftsman who endowed it with great presence. The boy's identity is unknown since no inscription is preserved, but the high quality of the sculpture has often led to the suggestion that he represents the emperor Nero as a child. Since Nero was already thirteen years old in a.d. 50—when he was adopted by his great uncle and stepfather, the emperor Claudius—it seems unlikely that he is, in fact, the person portrayed here. Nevertheless, the style of the bust is very much in keeping with late Julio-Claudian portraiture.

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Now at the Met

The Decoration of Men's Fashion in Eighteenth-Century France

Kirstin Purtich, Former Intern, Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts

Posted: Wednesday, June 3, 2015

In the eighteenth century, promenading among the shops along the rue St. Honoré became a fashionable leisure activity for men and women alike. This street was home to Paris's marchands merciers (known as "mercers" in English), a class of merchants who dealt in all manner of luxury goods, including textiles for furnishing and clothing. The mercers' exclusive right to finishing work—arranging for the addition of embroidery, buttons, braids, and sequins through a network of specialized workers—allowed their customers to choose the exact colors and patterns they wanted at the point of sale. The range of embroidery samples currently displayed in the exhibition Elaborate Embroidery: Fabrics for Menswear before 1815, on view through July 19, offers a small window into the level of decoration and customization possible for fashionable men of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.

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Now at the Met

The Shapes of Things, or, How the Ding Met the Tureen

Denise Patry Leidy, Curator, Department of Asian Art

Posted: Friday, May 29, 2015

This spring, the subject of cultural exchange between China and the West has been a hot topic thanks to the exhibition China: Through the Looking Glass, a collaboration between The Costume Institute and the Department of Asian Art. Yet fashion is by no means the only arena in which Western artists have been inspired by Chinese objects. For instance, bronze ritual vessels known as ding (figs. 1 and 2), which emerged during China's Bronze Age (ca. 1600–221 B.C.), have long inspired objects ranging from Korean chaekgori screens to Viennese bowls.

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Now at the Met

Worth Their Weight: Hungarian Silver from the Salgo Collection

Melissa Chumsky, Research Assistant, Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts

Posted: Friday, May 29, 2015

It is not difficult to appreciate the allure of the silver objects now on display in the exhibition Hungarian Treasure: Silver from the Nicolas M. Salgo Collection, on view through October 25. The patrons who originally commissioned them between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries surely appreciated the way that they glittered in the light and how they demanded to be admired in all of their sumptuous glory, but there may have been another glint in the eye of their beholders: that of their wealth reflected back to them by these utilitarian objects. Their aesthetic value was only paralleled by their monetary value; after all, these objects are literally made of money, fashioned by talented goldsmiths from silver ore.

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"The Blood Was Pooled, the Skulls Were Piled": Maya Star Wars and a Misconstrued Doomsday

James Doyle, Assistant Curator, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

Posted: Friday, May 29, 2015

A fragment of the bas relief known as Tortuguero Monument 6, now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum, forms part of one of the most infamous and contentious hieroglyphic texts in the Classic Maya (ca. a.d. 250–900) corpus. For many years epigraphers and lay enthusiasts honed in on the final passage of the text as a "prophecy," a tale of what would have happened on the date 13.0.0.0.0 4 Ahaw 3 K'ank'in in the Maya calendar. This corresponded to a day in December 2012, leading to spurious and sensational claims about an end of days predicted by the ancient Maya. The Met's fragment contains a pivotal portion of the text (fig. 1).

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Now at the Met

The Ashcan School, The Eight, and the New York Art World

Sylvia Yount, Lawrence A. Fleischman Curator in Charge, The American Wing

Posted: Tuesday, May 26, 2015

There's something new to see in gallery 772: a more expansive look at the work of the early-twentieth-century urban realists known as the Ashcan School. Robert Henri, William Glackens, George Luks, Everett Shinn, and John Sloan explored many dimensions of modern life in paintings, drawings, and prints, and now—for the first time in The American Wing—you can see their work across various media in one gallery.

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Hidden Secrets of Ancient Egyptian Technology

Anna Serotta, Independent Conservator; and Federico Carò, Associate Research Scientist, Department of Scientific Research

Posted: Friday, May 22, 2015

Archaeological objects and works of art in museum collections are not only treasured for their aesthetic qualities, but are also repositories of invaluable information, often concealed at a first sight, about the civilizations that created them. Among the many beautiful pieces in the collection of the Met's Department of Egyptian Art, it is interesting to note one modest stone fragment (fig.1), the scientific investigation of which has provided a clue that could solve a long-time debate among Egyptologists and historians of technologies: the use of high-performance abrasives.

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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.