John Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913) was the greatest collector of his generation. Over the course of his life, he amassed an unrivalled collection of art and rare books and manuscripts, including three Gutenberg Bibles and the only Raphael altarpiece in any American collection.
We asked some of the Morgan’s drawing and prints curators what their favorite portraits in the Morgan’s collections were, here are their answers.
This blog post is an excerpt by curator Isabelle Dervaux from the catalogue accompanying the Morgan’s exhibition The Drawings of Al Taylor.
In 1991, the German art dealer Fred Jahn visited Taylor’s studio and bought sixty-eight drawings. He subsequently offered to show the artist’s work regularly in his Munich gallery. From then on, Taylor was able to devote himself to his art. He had his first museum exhibition in 1992, at the Kunsthalle Bern in Switzerland.
These three pieces from the Morgan’s music manuscript collection tell a lovely little story, moving the listener from the cold bleakness of winter into the brightness of spring. They are also three of the most popular digitized manuscripts on our website.
In this unwelcome new age of social distance and self-isolation, when many of us hardly venture beyond the thresholds of our homes, I find myself thinking about Nellie Mae Rowe’s “playhouse.”
The most recent acquisition by the Morgan’s Department of Drawings and Prints is a Head of a Girl dating to around 1590 by Denys Calvaert, purchased at Christie’s old master drawing auction in late January 2020. Because we have no immediate plans to exhibit the drawing, a blog post seems a good way to talk about Calvaert, the Head of a Girl, and why the drawing is a welcome addition to the Morgan’s collection.
In June of 2019, around sixty of the Morgan's most treasured medieval manuscripts were sent to Cleveland and Austin as part of the tour for our exhibition Terrors, Aliens, Wonders. Lending these treasures is a great way for us to share our collection with a wider audience, especially those far afield from New York City, but we miss them nonetheless.
After finishing my master’s thesis in the history of art and medieval history and working at and with different European museums, I wanted to gain more knowledge about other international collections, their history as well as how their art is handled. My interaction with the Morgan Collection started a few years ago in Germany.
Chalk, pen, wash, paper. Simple materials that create an overwhelmingly complex picture. Until February 2, 2020, the Morgan Library & Museum will exhibit Guercino: Virtuoso Draftsman, a reflection on choice pieces from the Morgan’s collection by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, known as Guercino (1591–1666), who was “arguably the most interesting and diverse draftsman of the Italian Baroque era.”
One of my favorite aspects of my job as a curator at the Morgan Library & Museum is when high school and university classes come to see rare materials. The Morgan is not affiliated with a university, so, like Chaucer’s pilgrims, classes must make a bit of a trek to visit these relics.