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: The Print Collection


Minneapolis Institute of Arts



Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
There has been acquired by the Institute, through the generosity of an anonymous donor, a most important collection of about five thousand etchings, engravings, lithographs, and woodcuts, which ranks among the great collections in this country. The collection, formerly owned by William M. Ladd of Portland, Oregon, is very well balanced, illustrating in a comprehensive way the history of the Graphic Arts. The strength, however, of the collection, and that which gives it special distinction among the collections here and abroad, lies in the representative examples and brilliant impressions of the work of modern etchers. In this respect it is second only to the famous Avery Collection in New York.The collection offers a splendid opportunity for the study of a branch of art that is intimately related to drawing and painting, and, if approached sincerely and sympathetically, that will open up a new and broad field of interest and pleasure. Rembrandt, Whistler and other great artists were as great etchers as they were painters; according to some authorities their fame rests even more on their work in black and white than in their paintings.The bulk of the collection will be kept in the Print Study Room on the main floor, to the left of the entrance, labeled with the artists' names. The visitor will be welcome to take a box to the table, and with reasonable care, allowed to handle and study the prints, and "to see for himself and with his own eyes." The curator will be glad to show any prints not on exhibition, and to assist the student in every way possible. It is planned to have, in the near future, an exhibition case filled with tools and materials illustrating the technical processes of etching, engraving, woodcutting, wood engraving and lithography. In connection with the Print Study Room there is a splendid reference library which formed part of the former Ladd Collection.The collection is eminently a museum collection. Through the generosity and, above all, the vision of the anonymous donor, the opportunity is open to everyone of becoming acquainted with a field of art that otherwise would be restricted to the special student, collector and connoisseur. The value of the collection is estimated at over $225,000, but this sum does not begin to represent the real value of the collection and its intrinsic worth to the community. It is not a question of money alone. A collection of the quality and scope of that now owned by the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts cannot be collected in a day or a year or at random, but requires deliberate and trained selection. Many of the prints cannot be bought now at any price.To give the public an opportunity of seeing part of the collection as soon as possible, a special exhibition of selected examples of the works of the three great masters, Rembrandt, Whistler, and Meryon, has been arranged in the Print Gallery on the second floor at the head of the stairs. Every print shown is worthy of serious attention and study. Examples of the Whistler etchings with their freedom, sensitiveness and refinement of line, showing the artist's keen sense of values, and his power of suggestion, will be found in the central alcove. There are some of the early French set, the famous Black Lion Wharf of the Thames set, considered by Mr. Pennell "the greatest etching that has been produced in modern times," and impressions of some of the most delightful Venetian and Amsterdam views, printed by Whistler himself.Rembrandt, the great master of chiaroscuro is shown in the alcove on the left. He is, perhaps, the most easily understood of all the great masters by reason of his intense humanity and his reaction to the everyday life around him. Among the examples shown are the famous landscape, The Three Trees, and his masterpiece, Christ Healing the Sick, called the Hundred Guilder Print, a fine impression of the second state on Japan paper. There are 127 Rembrandts in the collection, all of them good, and some of them in brilliant impressions.The etchings of Meryon are in the alcove on the right. Meryon's etchings of Paris are full of poetry and weird imaginative beauty. He has preserved for us a sympathetic and truthful record of the architecture of Paris as it was about 1850. The Abside de Notre Dame with its "solemn and austere beauty" is considered his masterpiece. The print student will be especially interested in the Pont au Change which is shown in the second and fourth states.This first exhibition will serve as a key-note of the exhibitions to come. The following list will give some idea of the great variety of material in the collection: Among the engravers of the XV and XVI centuries there are examples of the work of Martin Schongauer, the first great master of the German School; 106 engravings and wood cuts by Albrecht Durer; German Little Masters-Beham, Pencz, Aldegrever; three engravings by Mantegna, the great Italian painter and engraver of the XV century; and examples of the work of other early masters.Among the engravers and etchers of the XVII century are: in the Netherlands, Rembrandt, Paul Potter, Ruysdael, A. van de Velde; in France, Callot, Claude Lorrain; portrait engravers such as Nanteuil, Morin and Masson.Of the XVIII century there are examples of the work of Canaletto; 34 etchings by Piranesi, sometimes called "The Rembrandt of Architecture"; English mezzotints by McArdell, S. W. Reynolds, Earlom, Valentine Green and others.Of modern etchers and engravers we may mention 242 etchings by Jacque, a notable group, including a large number of the rare early drypoints; a remarkable collection of the work of Millet; 124 prints by Buhot; Gaillard; Grateloup, 7 out of the 9 plates; 34 etchings by Meryon; 51 prints by Legros; 53 by Lepere; 178 etchings by Evert van Muyden, the most famous of modern etchers of animal life; a splendid group of lithographs by Fantin-Latour; 97 plates by Storm van's Gravesande, including all his important plates; M. A. J. Bauer, 32 plates; a nearly complete set of Liber Studiorum, by J. M. W. Turner, including 24 first states; 143 by Sir Frank Short, including all his important plates in selected impressions; the Scotch etcher, D. Y. Cameron, 72 prints; 205 Hadens, including trial proofs and different states; 103 Whistlers, including some of his lithographs; collection of modern German work in etching, woodcutting, lithography, and color-printing; an unusually representative group of contemporary French etchers. Of the work of American etchers may be noted 99 Pennells, including the set of the 23 Panama Canal lithographs and practically his entire earlier and rarer work; complete work of D. Shaw MacLaughlan down to about 1912; almost complete work of Charles Platt; 56 prints by Stephen Parrish; dry-points by Mary Cassatt. To give one more illustration of the interesting variety of the collection we may instance 20 etchings by the great Swedish painter and etcher, Anders Zorn.Referenced Works of Art
  1. Christ Healing the Sick, called the Hundred Guilder Print, etching by Rembrandt
  2. Weary, dry-point by Whistler
  3. La Galerie Notre-Dame, etching by Meryon
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Source: Marie C. Lehr, "The Print Collection," <i>The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Bulletin</i> 5, no. 8 (November, 1916): 62-64.
Rights: ©MIA
Added to Site: March 10, 2009