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European Sculpture and Decorative Arts


The fifty thousand objects in the Museum's comprehensive and historically important collection of European sculpture and decorative arts reflect the development of a number of art forms in Western European countries from the early fifteenth through the early twentieth century. The holdings include sculpture in many sizes and media, woodwork and furniture, ceramics and glass, metalwork and jewelry, horological and mathematical instruments, and tapestries and textiles. Ceramics made in Asia for export to European markets and sculpture and decorative arts produced in Latin America during this period are also included among these works.

Met Museum Presents Blog

Daring Performances in Iconic Spaces: A 2015 Met Museum Presents Itinerary

Meryl Cates, Press Officer, Met Museum Presents

Posted: Friday, June 12, 2015

Over the course of this past season, live arts at the Met have offered audiences daring and intriguing performances. By staging events right in the galleries and commissioning new works specifically for these powerful and iconic spaces, Met Museum Presents invites audiences to connect and engage with their surroundings and to be active in the performance experience.

While reflecting on this past season, as well as looking ahead to our 2015–16 season, we've assembled this special itinerary to give visitors the opportunity to view the galleries that have inspired memorable performances and have sparked the creativity of some of today's most fearless artists.

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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

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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Teen Blog

Perfectly Imperfect

Brooke, TAG Member

Posted: Friday, May 22, 2015

I find one-minute gesture, or figure, drawings very challenging. My desire to create an intriguing composition makes capturing the model's gesture in such a short period of time even harder. Normally, I look to the Met's collection for inspiration when I find myself confronted by an artistic problem, but, in this case, I thought: "How many one-minute gesture drawings are actually on display in a museum full of meticulously constructed masterpieces?"

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In Season

Transforming the Glass Gallery—Treasures and Talismans: Rings from the Griffin Collection

C. Griffith Mann, Michel David-Weill Curator in Charge, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Monday, May 18, 2015

Spring has finally arrived in New York, and the gardens of The Cloisters are filling out quickly, announcing their return with tender shoots and splashes of color. Inside the museum, we have opened the new exhibition Treasures and Talismans: Rings from the Griffin Collection, now on view in the Glass Gallery through October 18, 2015. This exhibition showcases a group of exceptional rings assembled by a private collector alongside works of art drawn from the holdings of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Now at the Met

Discussing the Rise of French Art Deco with Author Jared Goss

Rachel High, Editorial Assistant, Editorial Department

Posted: Wednesday, April 29, 2015

In April 1925, the Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes introduced French Art Deco to the public at large. Ninety years later, French Art Deco, one of the only books in English focused on this subject, provides a detailed account of this important movement, encapsulating the complex modern sensibilities of the early twentieth century through a selection of objects from the Met's impressive collection. I spoke with Jared Goss, author of the catalogue, about French Art Deco and the effects of the Industrial Revolution on artistic attitudes and production in twentieth-century France.

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Met Museum Presents Blog

Behind the Fig Leaf

Meryl Cates, Press Officer, Met Museum Presents

Posted: Friday, April 3, 2015

This Wednesday, April 8, Met Curator Luke Syson will give a talk, entitled Behind the Fig Leaf, about Tullio Lombardo's Adam (ca.1490–95)—the Renaissance marble of "The First Man" and one of the most important pieces of Venetian sculpture held outside of that city. After a terrible accident that left him in pieces and the painstaking restoration of the artwork, Adam is now on display in Tullio Lombardo's Adam: A Masterpiece Restored, on view through July 2015. Located in a specially designed space, gallery 504, the exhibition also features captivating video footage of the conservators at work during this extensive restoration project.

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Now at the Met

An American Voyage for French Tapestries

James Moske, Managing Archivist, Museum Archives

Posted: Tuesday, February 3, 2015

During several visits to the recent exhibition Grand Design: Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Renaissance Tapestry, I marveled at how the artist's inventive compositions guided my eyes through the dramatic, active scenes these artworks portray. The many fantastic details which augment each narrative rewarded repeated viewing and inspired a sense of awe for the unity of effort required to plan and create such massive, intricate images. At times I felt a bit overwhelmed by the immensity of the tapestries—all but one of them loaned from European museums and private collections—and wondered about the tremendous physical labor it must have taken to bring them to New York and install them here at the Metropolitan Museum.

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Grand Design Exhibition Blog

The Clock Strikes Midnight for Grand Design

Elizabeth Cleland, Associate Curator, Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts

Posted: Tuesday, January 6, 2015

This Sunday, January 11, will be the final day to visit the exhibition Grand Design: Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Renaissance Tapestry before its three-month run draws to a close. On January 12, Museum staff, observed by lenders' couriers, will begin to dismantle the displays and pack away the tapestries, paintings, drawings, and prints, ready to dispatch them back to their generous home collections.

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Grand Design Exhibition Blog

Four Drawings by Coecke: Before and After

Stijn Alsteens, Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints

Posted: Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Working on a major exhibition can feel like cooking a very elaborate meal: the preparation takes much longer than the actual event. Many of these preparations—especially conservation efforts—go unnoticed, although the result is there for any visitor to the show to see. While working on Grand Design: Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Renaissance Tapestry, I felt that four of the drawings selected for the show would benefit from conservation treatment before going on view in our galleries. Because none of these sheets is owned by the Metropolitan Museum, I had to rely on the willingness of curators and conservators abroad, as well as that of a private collector in New York, to consider my request.

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