Stop 47. Morgan's Legacy


A Lady Writing
Johannes Vermeer (Dutch, 1632–1675)
Ca. 1665
Oil on canvas
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC


Colin B. Bailey, Director
Beginning in 1912, the contents of Pierpont Morgan’s London home at Princes Gate; his English country retreat, Dover House; and the many collections he had placed on view in London museums were created for transport. These collections were shipped to New York via the White Star Line. Their ultimate destination had not yet been decided.

After Morgan’s death, his son, J. P. Morgan, Jr., called Jack, was faced with the task of determining the fate of his father’s collections. Eventually, most were given to museums Morgan had championed, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Wadsworth Atheneum. A group of intimately scaled work was kept to form the core of what is now the Morgan Library & Museum, while the majority of Morgan’s paintings were inherited by Jack and his sisters Louisa, Juliet, and Anne. Many, including Vermeer’s A Lady Writing, now in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, later entered American museums.

Portions of Morgan’s collections were sold after his death, nourishing other collections, including that of Henry Clay Frick, who bought large holdings of Chinese porcelains, Renaissance bronzes, and paintings such as the Progress of Love series of panels by Jean-Honoré Fragonard.