Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Posted: Monday, March 28, 2011
One hundred and forty years ago today, The Metropolitan Museum of Art made its first purchase of works of art—a group of 174 European old master paintings that became known as the "Purchase of 1871." William T. Blodgett, a founding member and Trustee of the Museum, facilitated the acquisition. A purchase of this scale would be remarkable even today, but in 1871, it was considered most audacious. The Metropolitan Museum was a new institution—only a year old—and possessed just one object (a sarcophagus), no gallery space, and no professional curatorial staff. The Trustees of the Museum, many of them collectors and connoisseurs, filled this role in addition to tending to the Museum's administrative needs. Blodgett was one such connoisseur who had honed his aesthetic judgment by collecting and commissioning contemporary French, German, English, and American paintings for his personal collection.