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Each year, the Philadelphia Museum of Art adds approximately 250 prints and drawings to its encyclopedic collection of over 150,000 works of art on paper, which spans the fifteenth century to the present day. This exhibition presents a selection of over one hundred prints and drawings acquired by gift and purchase between 2000 and 2005.
A number of new acquisitions were chosen in order to enhance areas of existing strength in the collection—in particular German Romantic prints (Philipp Otto Runge, Johann Anton Ramboux, and Eugen Napoleon Neureuther); modern European and American drawings (Carlo Carrà, Joseph Stella, and Max Weber); and contemporary art on paper (Betye Saar, Enrique Chagoya, Peter Doig, and Tony Oursler). Thanks to the generosity of several donors, an important collection of drawings by self-taught artists such as Bill Traylor, Joseph Yoakum, and Nellie Mae Rowe was recently initiated, while a focused effort has been made to add significant examples of prints and drawings by distinguished African Americans such as William H. Johnson, John Wilson, and Ellen Gallagher.
A few major additions were made to the Museum’s large collection of over 60,000 old master prints, chief among them Israhel van Meckenem’s rare engraved Self-Portrait with His Wife, Ida (c. 1490)—the first known self-portrait by a printmaker; a superb impression of Rembrandt van Rijn’s Three Crosses; and engravings by Albrecht Dürer and Marcantonio Raimondi. A brilliant example of Sonia Delaunay’s magisterial "simultaneous book" illustrating Blaise Cendrars’ La Prose du Transsibérien (1913) is the most recent major addition to the collection of modern European artist's books—a work described as one of the incunabula of twentieth-century art.