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: The Jones Gift of Prints


Minneapolis Institute of Arts



Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Any endeavor to list the great number of important items in the Jones Gift would be futile in the limited space afforded by this Bulletin. Nothing but a catalogue of considerable proportions would do it adequate justice. We must therefore confine ourselves to a brief account of its history, and a mere suggestion of the recent additions to the original anonymous donation which have made it a collection of which the Institute and the city of Minneapolis may well be proud. For it now ranks as one of the outstanding collections in America.In 1916 Mr. Jones acquired the collection of William M. Ladd of Portland, Oregon, and presented it anonymously to the Society of Fine Arts. This consisted of over 5,000 etchings, engravings, lithographs and woodcut, together with a fine reference library of 176 volumes. The strength of the Ladd Collection consisted in its brilliant representation of the work of modern etchers. There were 103 Whistler etchings and lithographs, for instance, in impressions of unusually fine quality. The Hadens numbered 242, including 165 of the 251 subjects catalogued by Harrington, unusual importance attaching to the group because of its many trial proofs and different states. And there were works of Turner, Meryon, Cameron, Lepere, Legros, Zorn and many others, too numerous to mention here. A more complete account of the original gift was given in the issue of the Bulletin of January, 1916.Although the Old Masters had not been neglected in the Ladd Collection, the moderns were its strongest feature. But Mr. Jones was not satisfied. In the intervening years, by the gift of additional prints in eight different groups he has gradually filled in the gaps until the collection as it now stands represents with unusual completeness the history of the graphic arts from the outstanding masters of the XV Century to the present day.Decidedly the most important addition was made in 1926 in a gift of 264 prints. Including examples of the work of the earliest engravers, many of the greatest rarity and some in magnificent impressions. With the acquisition of these prints, the collection gained, at one bound, a position of distinction in the field of early engraving which can hardly be over-estimated.Let us mention a few of the outstanding examples. There are two of the so-called "dotted prints," which form a group apart from the product of their contemporaries. It is generally thought they were first produced about the middle of the XV century. At all events, they went out of fashion toward its close and nothing quite like them has been produced since. Consequently, they are of the greatest rarity.Ten Schongauers were also added in the 1926 group, including the third, fourth and fifth "Foolish Virgins," and the second and fourth "Wise Virgins," all in fine impressions. Master M. Z. (Zasinger) is represented in seven examples, including the "St. Barbara" and the "Beheading of St. Catharine."By Master F. V. B. (Bocholt) are the "St. Matthew" and the "St. John." Of the former only eight impressions are listed by Lehrs in his catalogue, and of the latter only five.Other German XV century prints of especial note include "St. Agatha" and "Two Wild Men Jousting" by van Meckenem, and a superb impression of the first state, before the monogram, of "Christ on the Cross" by Master A. G. (Glockenton).Among the most interesting features of the Jones Gift is a complete set of Dürer's masterly series of woodcuts, "The Life of the Holy Virgin," in a complete first edition with the Latin text. Most of the series was executed in 1503 and 1504, the final plates dating about 1510. This set is especially to be prized because, although the number of copies Dürer published must have been considerable, it is seldom that complete books are to be found, collectors in the past having adopted the practice of tearing out and mounting single leaves.It is generally believed that the piracy of this series was the occasion for Dürer's visit to Venice in 1505, when, seventeen of the twenty blocks being ready for publication and already issued in separate copies, he received the information that Marcantonio Raimondi had engraved them on copper line for line and published them without the slightest compunction. It is supposed that Dürer institutes suit against Marcantonio before the Signoria, although no record of it remains in the Venetian archives. At all events, one easily comprehends the desire of the Italian engraver to reproduce them, for each is a little masterpiece in itself.Among the prints of the Italian artists of the XV century are to be found a leaf from a block book with references to "De Civitate Dei" by St. Augustine, a Zoan Andrea, "Christ before Pilate," partially colored by hand, three Jacopo de' Barbari, a Brescia and three Campagnola.The outstanding items of the German XVI century group include excellent examples of Hans Baldung Grun, Burgkmaier, Cranach and Urs Graf, the latter being represented by "The Standard Bearer of Unterwalden," of the greatest rarity. Of Burgkmaier's work the collection includes four plates from the "Seven Virtues," one of which is reproduced in this issue of the Bulletin. Only two of this series are in the British Museum.By the XVI century masters of the Netherlands are forty-eight examples of the work of Lucas van Leyden, Dürer's Dutch contemporary, including his masterpiece, the "Portrait of Maximilian," reproduced on the cover. Vellert's "St. Bernard" is also noteworthy in this group.Marcantonio Raimondi, the great engraver of Raphael's works, is seen in his "St. Cecilia," "Dance of the Cupids," and "David and Goliath."There are many others, too numerous to mention, among the older masters and some exceedingly rare moderns. In the latter class, suffice it to single out four lithographed portraits by Ingres printed on one sheet, of the utmost rarity. They are doubly noteworthy as wholly characteristic of this great artist, and as being among the earliest examples of artistic lithography produced in any country.Very few of these recent additions have ever been shown in the galleries of the Institute, although naturally most of the important prints of the Ladd Collection have been exhibited since 1916. Now, however, an exhibition of about 200 prints has just opened in the Print Gallery and three adjoining galleries on the second floor. No attempt has been made to show many examples of one man's work or to arrange them in historical sequence, as has been the practice when the regular exhibitions have been shown. The aim in this case will be to present as many as possible of the new acquisitions which have never been shown before, and to give an idea of the wide scope of the Jones Gift. Only thus can some conception of the value and beauty of this remarkable collection be given.The regular Print Gallery will be devoted wholly to the recent accessions, never before exhibited, and the other three galleries will contain recent accessions and examples from the Ladd Collection.Referenced Works of Art
  1. Emperor Maximilian. By Lucas Van Leyden
  2. Christ Before Pilate by Zoan Andrea
  3. The Visitation. From Dürer's "Life of the Holy Virgin"
  4. Prudence, by Hans Burgkmaier
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Source: "The Jones Gift of Prints," <i>The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Bulletin</i> 17, no. 22 (June, 1928): 106-108.
Rights: ©MIA
Added to Site: March 10, 2009