Rare Highlights of Music, Art and Literature at the Morgan Library, New York

Art, history and literature lovers spend days at the Morgan Library and Museum exploring the most amazing collection of manuscripts, paintings and books – featuring a compilation of important, rare and priceless pieces covering Egyptian art, the Renaissance, manuscripts, rare books, and even the earliest evidence of writing.

Founded in 1906 to house the private collection and library of John Pierpont Morgan, which includes a rare collection of prints and drawings, the library was designed by Charles McKim. In 1924 it was made a public institution by Morgan’s son John Pierpont Morgan, Jr., and the building is now a National Historic Landmark.

Today the complex of buildings housing the Library and Museum also serve as a scholarly research centre. The library boasts many illuminated manuscripts as well as original manuscripts by famous authors. A few interesting and unusual items include, Sri Walter Scott’s ‘Ivanhoe’, and Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’. Manuscripts by Charlotte Bronte, Lord Byron and original poems by Robert Burns are other popular items on display.

The collection also boasts a large compilation of incunabula, prints and drawings of European artists. The collection covers Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, Rembrandt, Rubens, Gainsborough, Dürer, and Picasso. The incunabula include early printed Bibles, which includes the Biblia Latina, the first good example of European ‘moveable metal type’ and two other Gutenberg Bibles and Old Testament Miniatures with Latin, Persian, and Judeo-Persian inscriptions. The collection of printed books and bindings extends to cover important first editions from the 20th century, highlighted by first editions of classical authors. The vast Bindings Collection of about a thousand volumes represents English, French and Italian bindings of the 16th through the 19th century.

Most literary and history scholars are attracted to the material from Ancient Egypt and medieval Liturgical objects. Original drawing for the edition of the Book of Job by William Blake and Antoine de Saint Exupery’s concept drawings for The Little Prince are also on display.

The Morgan Library & Museum also houses a fine collection of music manuscripts, first editions of scores and librettos, some 1700 items spanning six centuries and covering many countries. The collection’s highlights include autograph manuscript of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Violin Sonata no. 10 in G, and Mozart’s “Haffner” Symphony, again an autograph manuscript. Apart from The Library also houses an impressive collection of manuscripts by Brahms, Chopin, Debussy, Schubert, and Richard Strauss.

The collection of drawings and paintings spans the 14th through 21st centuries, mainly focusing on European drawings before 1825. The collection includes 16th and 18th century Italian drawings; works by Raphael, Michelangelo and da Vinci, France represented by Claude, Watteau and Fragonard, and covers the works of Rembrandt, with the largest collection of Rembrandt etchings in the United State, Rubens and van Dyck.

Exploring Morgan’s vast collection would definitely take a couple of days and the best option would be to find lodging in the vicinity. For lodging close by try the Shelburne Murray Hill Hotel in New York. Located in Midtown Manhattan, the hotel also provides easy access to Fifth Avenue shopping, The UN Headquarters and other interesting attractions and museums.

 

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