The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the world's largest and finest art museums. Its collections include nearly two million works of art spanning more than 5,000 years of world culture, from prehistory to the present and from every part of the globe.
The Museum was founded on April 13, 1870, "to be located in the City of New York, for the purpose of establishing and maintaining in said city a Museum and library of art, of encouraging and developing the study of the fine arts, and the application of arts to manufacture and practical life, of advancing the general knowledge of kindred subjects, and, to that end, of furnishing popular instruction."
This statement of purpose has guided the Museum for more than a century. The Trustees of The Metropolitan Museum of Art have since reaffirmed the statement of purpose and supplemented it with the following statement of mission:
The mission of The Metropolitan Museum of Art is to collect, preserve, study, exhibit, and stimulate appreciation for and advance knowledge of works of art that collectively represent the broadest spectrum of human achievement at the highest level of quality, all in the service of the public and in accordance with the highest professional standards.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Department of Twentieth Century Art has nearly 10,000 works representing the fine and decorative arts of this century, including a diverse representation of the contemporary art world.
The Mezzanine Gallery has published more than 80 prints since 1979 representing over 50 contemporary artists. Each artist published has work in The Museum's permanent collection. The Limited Edition print program reflects the varied artistic tendencies present in the Museum's collection.
The history of print publishing by institutions has its origins in the state printing offices, such as the Calcografia in Rome and Calcographie in Paris, where famous artists worked and their plates were conserved. These institutions provided presses on which to pull editions for eventual sale to the public. Piranesi's famous Vedute and Carcere series were printed for sale to tourists making the Grand Tour. They are still occasionally pulled today from the original plates conserved in the Calcografia. The Metropolitan Museum of Art first published a suite of etchings in 1871, commissioned from the famous Parisian etcher, Jules Jacquemart. These ten etchings reproducing paintings were sold under the imprint of Colnaghi's, a noted London dealer. They were sold for $25, a rather large sum at that time. The next venture into limited edition publishing was the posthumous publication of a suite of etchings by Winslow Homer in 1941 printed by Charles White. In 1970, to celebrate its Centennial, the Museum commissioned and published prints by Josef Albers, Robert Rauschenberg and Frank Stella. The Museum feels that offering prints at reasonable prices encourages people to become potential collectors and eventual supporters.
Proceeds from the sale of limited edition prints supports The Metropolitan Museum of Art and its programs.
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