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: Thursday, November 19, 2015
The Metropolitan Museum's recent exhibition Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends featured paintings and watercolors by the celebrated American artist John Singer Sargent. Less well-known is the fact that the artist was also active as a printmaker. In 1895, he made a fascinating group of lithographs as he prepared to send one work to a large overview exhibition, held at the Palais des Beaux Arts in Paris, which celebrated the hundredth anniversary of this particular print medium. Examples of Sargent's experimental lithographs were later donated to the Met, in 1950, by the artist's sister Violet Ormond, and are currently on view in the Robert Wood Johnson, Jr. Gallery.
Posted: Monday, November 2, 2015
The 1880s witnessed an explosion in the production of souvenir cards in the United States. Among the first companies to take advantage of the marketing potential of these collectible cards were tobacco companies such as Allen & Ginter, Duke, and Goodwin, though producers of coffee, chewing gum, and other products also inserted souvenir cards into the packaging of their output.
As printed-ephemera collector Jefferson R. Burdick explained in The American Card Catalogue, published in 1960, collecting souvenir cards became so popular in this decade that tobacco companies issued albums of souvenir cards "intended to replace the individual cards if the smoker so desired, or at least enable him to own the entire collection of designs without the difficulty attendant to obtaining all the individual cards in a set."
Posted: Tuesday, October 20, 2015
A pivotal scene in the 2014 film Million Dollar Arm shows John Hamm's character, sports agent J.B. Bernstein, standing in an office directly in front of a pair of poster-sized photographs of old baseball teams. While the movie follows the factual story of Bernstein and his discovery of Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel—young amateur baseball players from India—the photographs suggest another story steeped in the history of the sport, one that channels the careers of equally ambitious men dedicated to the game.
To some viewers these images would have escaped unnoticed, but their familiarity caught my eye as they are part of the Met's Jefferson R. Burdick Collection of Printed Ephemera—specifically series T200, Baseball Teams, published in 1913 by the Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company to promote their Fatima "Turkish blend" cigarettes. Significant in subject matter, history, and medium, these large black-and-white prints shown in the film display the team roster for the Chicago Cubs (above) and the Boston Red Sox (below).
Posted: Monday, October 5, 2015
The Major League Baseball playoffs begin tomorrow, and for fans everywhere, there is a lot to be excited about. It's the second season, in a manner of speaking, and the ten teams who made the cut now have their eyes set on championship glory. In just a few weeks the World Series will begin, about the same time as the next exhibition of the Jefferson R. Burdick Collection will go on view here at the Met.
Posted: Thursday, September 24, 2015
Today marks the launch of the new section of the Museum's website dedicated to the vast, diverse, and often surprising ephemera collection of Jefferson R. Burdick (1900–1963). The trade and postcards, which make up the bulk of the collection of over three hundred thousand objects, span in time from the 1890s to the last months of Burdick's life. An avid collector, Burdick dedicated his life to amassing, organizing, and cataloguing his collection. In addition to the acclaimed collection of over thirty thousand baseball cards—the most in a public collection outside of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York—Burdick's collection includes a dizzying array of trade cards that were produced by tobacco, candy, and gum companies, as well as bakeries, clothing shops, and milliners, to name just a few types of the American businesses that adopted the form as a means of advertising their products.
Posted: Monday, September 21, 2015
In the late eighteenth century, when the advent of Neoclassicism had many painters turning to subjects inspired by ancient Rome, the ability to render drapery on the human figure became an essential skill, as seen in a group of drapery studies on view in the Robert Wood Johnson, Jr. Gallery through September 28. Just as it had in antiquity, both the challenge and the appeal of the subject lay in the way the drapery both covered and revealed the human form.
Posted: Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Currently on view in the Robert Wood Johnson, Jr. Gallery are works on paper by Lucian Freud and Brice Marden. Although these artists are widely acclaimed for their work in other media, prints play a critical role in their oeuvres. Both artists avidly explored possibilities for printmaking, often developing ideas and innovations that they then applied to work in other media. Their engagement with printmaking—etching in particular—was not only important for the artists, but also had a significant impact on the medium itself by offering up new possibilities.
Posted: Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Almost until the day of his death in 1990 at the advanced age of ninety-seven, Romain de Tirtoff, better known as Erté, was a frequent and much-loved guest of New York City. His visits, which were usually marked by dinners and parties in his honor, were often listed with exclamation marks in the society pages of the New York Times, and an exclusive birthday celebration was hosted by the Circle Gallery in Soho in honor of his ninety-fifth birthday.
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.
Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2015
In his 1583 book The Anatomie of Abuses, the English moralist Phillip Stubbes criticized the growing trend for wearing arms as a stylish accessory, condemning upstart fops who sported "swoords, daggers and rapiers guilte and reguilte, burnished, and costly engraven, with all things els that any noble of honorable, or worshipfull man doth, or may weare so as one cannot easily be discerned from the other." Stubbes's main concern lay in the fact that men of all classes gave in to the whims of fashion and started wearing decorated arms daily as pieces of jewelry, giving way to vanity and pride and simultaneously blurring the lines of social standing.