Building a National Collection


Old Masters
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Two Early Collectors

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The Artist as Collector

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The Curator as Collector

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

The Curator as Collector

John Baptist Jackson
Holy Family
and Four Saints

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Woman and
Two Children
in Sailboat

Irving Amen
James Lesesne Wells
Adam and Eve
Traditionally a curator directs the growth of a collection through purchases, exhibitions, and relations with donors. Jacob Kainen, born in 1909, came to the Smithsonian in 1942 and served as graphic arts curator until 1966. The dual nature of his career as both artist and curator is reflected in his many contributions. Kainen trained as a painter at Brooklyn's Pratt Institute, and he experimented with printmaking while employed in the graphics program of the Federal Art Project in the 1930s. The friendships he developed in the New York art world contributed to his new career in Washington, enriching the exhibition program and enlarging the print collection. Kainen's important Smithsonian publications on the color woodcuts of John Baptist Jackson, the etchings of Canaletto, and the development of the halftone screen reflect the breadth of his technical and historical knowledge.

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