Sidney Babcock, Jeannette and Jonathan Rosen Curator of Ancient Western Asian Seals and Tablets
In early 1906, as construction of his Library neared completion, Morgan hired a young librarian to oversee its day-to-day affairs. Her name was Belle da Costa Greene. Her office is the intimate, two-story space opposite the entrance, now known as the North Room. The ceiling paintings were created in the studio of James Wall Finn, who based three of the horizontal panels on Renaissance examples, with the fourth replicating a ceiling painting in the Doge’s Palace in Venice by the eighteenth-century Italian painter Giambattista Tiepolo.
The perimeter of the ceiling is decorated with painted stucco reliefs, including twelve portraits based on Italian Renaissance medallions depicting ten men and two women who were among the great patrons of their era. The fireplace mantel, with its parade of misbehaving children, was provided by the Florentine dealer Stefano Bardini.
From this room, Greene managed acquisitions, cataloged the collection, and corresponded with dealers and scholars, until her retirement in 1948. The room served as the Director’s office until the late 1980s. The space was closed to the public until the 2010 renovation of the library when it was reimagined as a gallery for the Morgan’s collection of antiquities. It now features ancient western Asian seals and tablets, Egyptian and Greco-Roman sculpture, and early medieval ornaments from the Thaw Collection.