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    Recent Art Acquisitions in American Public Collections Essay

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    From Albrecht Duirer’s work, says Arthur M. Hind, “we ob tain an increased sense of the beauty and dignity of life, and the restlessness of thought and uncer tainty of artistic dogma and convention so common at the present time could find no better antidote than the balanced style and intense conviction that char acterizes Duirer’s engraved work.” The Junius Spencer Morgan collection of Duirer’s etchings and engravings which has ranked as one of the world’s finest Duirer collections, private or public, has come as a permanent acquisition to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The Diurer section of the Museum’s print collection is now complete and it ranks with the famous collections of the British Museum in London, the Albertina in Vienna, the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris and the new museum in Berlin. The Metropolitan Duirers are of the finest quality comprising first states in con dition seldom seen. For some thirty years Mr. Morgan was unceasing in his search for the finest impressions of prints by Durer. There has never been a more indefatigable and determined a collector. The remarkable Theodore Irwin and George W. Vanderbilt collections were bought by Mr. Morgan en bloc and many were the


     Durer treasures therein which added to the extent and importance of the Morgan collection. The supremely rare St.  Jerome and the Holy Family are but two of the prints which are worth a pilgrimage to view. “As an engraver,” says Hind, “Duirer worked directiy on the copper, but in the case ot his woodcuts, it is fairly certain that he was only responsible for the draw ing ot the design on the block. The block-cutters in Dutrer’s day were ot a different- class to the engraver and gold smith,, and their work was so much a mere matter of faithful translation of the lines, that the mechanical factor of cutting on the wood was of very secondary importance. In fact, with woodcuts in which there is any complexity of design, I fee’ that the artist wouid sacrifice spon- taneity if he were to submit to the drud- gery of clearing away the negative parts of the design. . . . The early work is essentially Gothic in its tendency to the pointed and angular, the direct offspring of the style of his master, Wohlgemut and the artistic entourage of his native town. . . . Durer always remained a true Nuremberger at heart, but, like Rem- brandt, he was susceptible to the best influences of Italian art in relation to form, spacing and composition. He grad- ally freed himself from the mediaeval ‘fantasy, devoid of form and foundation,’ which disfigured his early work as it does much of the Fifteenth century engraving north of the Alps. And he managed to ennoble his art by an appreciation and adoption ot Italian standards of form and beauty without falling a victim to their more local and superficial qualities.” (Albrecht Durer, Great Engraver’s Series, Edited by Arthur M. Hind.)



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