Building a National Collection


Old Masters
in the
New World

Two Early Collectors

Pictures at the Exhibitions

The Artist as Collector

The Schoff Collection

The Ferris Collection

The Sloan Collection


The Curator as Collector

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Building a National Collection
150 Years of Print Collecting at the Smithsonian

The Artist as Collector

Artists collect prints for aesthetic inspiration and technical guidance. In the years before public art collections were available for viewing, many artists maintained their own collections of reproductive engravings for study. When the Marsh Collection had been at the Smithsonian for over a year, the 1850 Annual Report noted it had attracted much interest, "not from undiscriminating idlers, but from men of taste and particularly from artists."

Warrington Colescott
Rembrandt Bankrupt
Artists also received works from their mentors and contemporaries. The Museum's collection has been enriched not only with works created and presented by generous artists but through acquisition of their personal collections as well. Artists in particular have been gratified to find a collection that focused on the technical aspects of printmaking. Moreover, from the 1920s into the 1960s, before the creation of separate Smithsonian art museums, the Graphic Arts division sponsored a succession of short-term exhibitions of the work of living artists.

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