The 225,000 items in the Philadelphia Museum
of Art's permanent collection are divided into the following departments.
The American collection exemplifies 300 years of architecture, landscape
and portrait paintings, sculpture, silver, glass, fine furniture and other
decorative arts, with a particular emphasis on Philadelphia's traditions
of craftsmanship. Highlights include Death on a Pale Horse (1817)
by Benjamin West, an unrivalled holding of works by the Philadelphian
realist painter Thomas Eakins
(1844-1916) and a unique collection of Tucker porcelains.
European Art 11001500
This department illustrates the development of Medieval (Romanesque and
Gothic styles) and early Renaissance
art across Europe, notably in Medieval France and Renaissance Italy,
Spain, and the Low Countries. As most of these works were commissioned
for religious authorities and locations, biblical and ecclesistical imagery
is the norm. Exhibits include a Medieval stone cloister from the Abbey
of Saint-Genis-des-Fontaines, as well as illuminated manuscripts, stained
glass, stone sculpture, wood carvings, metalwork and reliquaries. Fine
art painting is represented by Italian and Netherlandish works, by
masters like Duccio di Buoninsegna and Fra Angelico, as well as Robert
Campin, Jan van Eyck, and Rogier van der Weyden. Highlights include Saint
Francis (1435) by Jan van Eyck; and Crucifixion with Virgin and
Saint John (1450) by Rogier van der Weyden.
European Art 15001850
Masterpieces of European art from
the period 1500-1850, feature paintings, sculpture, furniture, Italian
maiolica ceramics, and tapestry art
from the High Renaissance (1490-1530), Mannerist (1530-1600), Baroque
(1600-1700), Rococo (c.1715-60), and Neoclassical (c.1760-1820) periods.
Seventeenth century Dutch Realist painters are also well represented.
Artists on show include Nicolas Poussin, Peter Paul Rubens, El Greco,
Jacob van Ruisdael and many others. Later works include those by Thomas
Gainsborough, Sir Joshua Reynolds, JMW Turner and Eugene Delacroix, among
others. Highlights include: Pieta (1571-1576) by El Greco; Prometheus
Bound (1611-12) by Peter Paul Rubens; and The Burning of the Houses
of Lords and Commons (1835) by JMW Turner. Sculptural highlights include
Jean-Antoine Houdons memorable bust of Benjamin Franklin.
Decorative art of the
period is well illustrated by furniture, Sèvres porcelains, silverwares,
metalwork, tapestry art, and items of
European Art 18501900
This short period, linking early 19th-century traditions with the arrival
of modern art of the 20th century, is
represented in the museum's collections of important paintings, sculpture,
and ceramics exemplifying movements such as Impressionism,
International Realism, Pointillism, Post-Impressionism,
and Art Nouveau (Sezession, Jugendstil). Highlights include: The Battle
of The Alabama and Kearsarge (1864) and The Departure of Steam
Folkestone (1869) by Edouard Manet; Gray Weather, Grande Jatte
(1888) by Georges Seurat; The Dance at Moulin Rouge (1889-90) by
Toulouse-Lautrec; Vase with Twelve Sunflowers, Arles (1889) by
Vincent Van Gogh; Poplars (Autumn) (1891) and Japanese Bridge
and Water Lilies (c.1899) by Claude Monet; The
Large Bathers (1898-1905) by Paul Cezanne.
highlights include group of more than 100 bronzes, marbles, and plasters
created by the naturalist French sculptor Auguste
Rodin, including the first bronze cast of his masterpiece, The
Gates of Hell (1880-1917). Other late-19th century treasures include
furniture and wallpaper designs by William
Morris; a collection of Art
Nouveau furniture, glass, and ceramics.
Modern & Contemporary Art (1900-present)
This embraces paintings, collage,
sculpture, video art, and design from 1900
onwards. It features works by Europeans like Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp,
Constantin Brancusi, Henri Matisse, Joan Miro, and Salvador Dali, as well
as modern American artists such as Georgia OKeeffe, Marsden Hartley,
Cy Twombly, Jasper Johns,
and Sol LeWitt, among others. Highlights include: Three Musicians
by Picasso; Nude Descending a Staircase No.2 (1912) and The
Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) (1915-23)
by Marcel Duchamp;
and Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (1936) by Salvador Dali.
Other modern and contemporary styles represented include: the Ash Can
school of American Realism, Mexican Modernism, Outsider
Art (in French Art Brut),
as well as works by African American artists.
Prints, Drawings & Photographs (c.1500-present)
This department - which contains the largest number of items (150,000)
of any section of the museum - displays examples of printmaking
(etchings, woodcuts), drawings, watercolours, gouache, posters, collage
art, photomontage, photographs, and photogravures. It is especially
strong in the areas of Old Master Italian drawings and Old Master prints,
as well as American prints dating from the 1930s and 1940s. Latin America
and Japan are also well represented. Another unique exhibit is the Ars
Medica Collection of medical and pharmaceutical prints, and posters. The
collection of fine art photography
includes nearly 30,000 prints, with significant holdings of work by Paul
Strand (1890-1976), Alfred
Stieglitz (1864-1946), and other important fine art photographers.
Arms & Armour
This department features the Carl
Otto Kretzschmar von Kienbusch Collection, bequeathed to the Philadelphia
Museum of Art in 1976. It includes European arms and armour spanning several
centuries, such as Plate and mail armour, swords, daggers, firearms, shields,
crossbows, and equestrian equipment.
Asian Art (c.2,000 BCE - present)
The Philadelphia Museum's magnificent Asian art collection includes paintings,
sculpture and ancient pottery (from China,
Japan, and India), including important series of miniatures from India
and hanging paintings from Nepal and Tibet; decorative arts, notably a
large holding of Chinese
pottery, Japanese porcelain and similar Korean
art; a number of rare Persian and Turkish carpets, as well as scrolls,
crystal, mosaic art, and architecture
from all parts of Asia.
Costume & Textiles
This section, consisting of about
30,000 objects, is one of the oldest and largest fabric exhibits in America.
It embraces woven and printed fabrics, embroidery and lace, outstanding
American quilts and coverlets, as well as Middle Eastern and Asian textiles.
One of the most popular items is the original wedding dress worn by Grace
Kelly of Philadelphia at her marriage to Prince Rainier, when she became
Princess Grace of Monaco.
The Philadelphia Museum holds a huge
range of Dutch ceramics, including tiles, Delft earthenware, and ornamented
porcelain dating from the 16th- to the 21st-century.
All these works make it one of the best
art museums in America.