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New at the Morgan: Acquisitions Since 2004
April 17 through October 18, 2009

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Giacomo Torelli (1608–1678)
Scene e machine preparate alle Nozze di Teti, Balletto Reale. Paris: s.n., 1654.
Purchased on the Gordon N. Ray Fund, 2008
PML 195035.

La Finta Pazza, the first Italian opera performed in France (in 1645), was a brilliant success for the Italian stage designer and engineer Giacomo Torelli, who followed up with a prequel, the ballet Nozze di Teti, starring Louis XIV in the part of Apollo. For these two commemorative publications, Torelli commissioned the eminent engravers Nicolas Cochin and Israël Silvestre to engrave large double-folding plates after his designs for sets, which had astounded audiences with tricks of perspective and ingenious mechanical devices. This copy is in an elaborate armorial binding, indicating that it once belonged to Henri-Jules de Bourbon-Condé, son of Louis II of Bourbon, "Le Grand Condé," and proprietor of the magnificent library at Chantilly.

Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890)
Autograph letter, dated 17 October 1888, to Paul Gauguin
Gift of Eugene V. Thaw in honor of Charles E. Pierce, Jr., 2007; MA 6447

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Eagerly anticipating Gauguin's impending visit, van Gogh promised that en route from Pont-Aven to Arles his friend would see "miles and miles of countryside of different kinds with autumn splendors." Van Gogh reported that a recent bout of eyestrain forced him to remain indoors and paint an interior "with a simplicity à la Seurat." This painting was The Bedroom—sketched and vividly described here—in which he "had wished to express utter repose with all these very different tones." Van Gogh expressed his desire to talk with Gauguin about this and other paintings, admitting that "I often don't know what I'm doing, working almost like a sleepwalker." Two months after Gauguin's arrival, their fierce quarrels about art ended the painters' intense friendship.

"Saint James," woodcut in Catholic Church
Book of Hours. French & Latin.
Horae ad usum Romanum
[Paris: Jean Du Pré or Chablis: Jean Le Rouge] for Antoine Vérard, 2 Sept. 1485
Purchased as the gift of the B. H. Breslauer Foundation and on the B. H. Breslauer Foundation Fund, the Curt F. Bühler Fund, the Lathrop C. Harper Fund, and the Gordon N. Ray Fund, 2007
PML 129974; ChL1447C.

A Book of Hours is a personal version reproducing the "hours" or "offices" of prayer common to medieval monastic life. This copy is the earliest illustrated Book of Hours printed in France as well as the first known publication of Antoine Vérard, who produced many subsequent editions of this perennial best seller. It is possible that there were earlier editions, but this one has all the marks of a pioneering venture in its tentative typography and archaic woodcuts (the origins of which are still undetermined). Following Vérard's example, other printers and booksellers developed new, more sophisticated styles of decorating and illustrating this devotional text, which was a staple of the Paris book trade even before the invention of printing.

Richard Wagner (1813–1883)
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Acts 2 and 3
Mainz: B. Schott's Söhne, 1868
Corrected proofs of the piano-vocal score
James Fuld Collection

This proof copy of the piano-vocal score of Wagner's Die Meistersinger contains markings by the composer himself. The one appearing at the top of page 177 instructs the printer on the placement of the text for the stage direction. Dedicated to King Ludwig of Bavaria, the opera was first performed in Munich on 21 June 1868. In this scene from Act II, Hans Sachs interferes with Beckmesser's attempt to serenade Eva by hammering on a shoe and bellowing a tune.

Jean Antoine Watteau (1684–1721)
Head of a Woman, Turned Three-Quarters to the Right, ca. 1717
Red and black chalks
2 3/4 x 2 1/2 inches (70 x 65 mm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Kramarsky in memory of Lola and Siegfried Kramarsky on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of Morgan Library and the 50th anniversary of the Association of Fellows; 2008.8

Watteau's paintings were based on numerous sketches that he mixed and matched in a variety of compositions. This head, originally part of a larger sheet of similar studies, was used for the woman at the center of Pilgrimage to Cythera, one of the artist's most celebrated paintings (known in two versions—one in the Louvre, Paris, and the other in Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin). The subtle rendering of the features is characteristic of Watteau's style, as is the free, light, and expressive touch of the soft chalk.

Oscar Wilde (1854–1900)
Autograph letter signed, 1892, to Lord Alfred Douglas
4 pages, 23 cm
Gift of Lucia Moreira Salles, 2008; MA 7258.11

See more letters and manuscripts by Oscar Wilde »

In 1891 Oscar Wilde met a young Oxford undergraduate named Lord Alfred Douglas, known to friends and family as Bosie, the youngest son of the ninth Marquess of Queensberry. This letter is the earliest to survive from the passionate (and tragic) relationship that followed. Writing on stationery of his London club, Wilde referred to a visiting-card case, his recent gift to Douglas, and expressed candid longing to be together: "I should awfully like to go away with you somewhere where it is hot and coloured." At the top of the page Wilde scrawled Love to Encombe—the young viscount with whom Douglas was lodging at the time.

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Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.