The exhibition described and fully illustrated in this catalogue is the first in an extended series that will display the resources of collections of master drawings located in New York City and its environs. While the holdings of public institutions are reasonably well known, the drawings in private collections are generally less so, and we therefore hope to perform a service for both the interested public and art scholarship in our projected series of exhibitions and catalogues, which will encompass the drawings of Western European artists from the Italian Renaissance to the end of the nineteenth century.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Pierpont Morgan Library possess the two major collections of drawings in the United States, and both are continuing to grow by purchases, gifts, and bequests. Because both institutions are fortunate enough to be in this position, and because both owe an incalculable debt to the vision, the standards of excellence, and the generosity of J. Pierpont Morgan and his son, J. P. Morgan, it has seemed wholly appropriate that they should join forces in presenting these exhibitions to the public. They will alternate between the two institutions, this first exhibition being held at the Metropolitan, and the second in the series, also of Italian drawings, at the Morgan Library during the winter of 1966–1967.
New York is a relative newcomer among the world's centers of master drawings collections, and even today the breadth of the city's resources owes much to the continuing activity and the discerning eye of collectors whose initial enthusiasm was nourished abroad. This catalogue and its successors will demonstrate what progress has been made in assembling here representative examples of the work of the leading draughtsmen of the past five centuries.