Art collection development
See also: our general Collection development policy, and policies on Early modern English collection development, Continental collection development, Shakespeare collection development, and Manuscript collection development.
The art collection's strength and future lies in complementing art museums' collections and in complementing the Folger's book and manuscript collection.
Collecting as part of a research library for both early modern European culture and Shakespeare and the theater frees the art collection from being aesthetics-driven or artist-driven. That is the primary job of an art museum. We can complement what art museums do by developing a subject-driven visual materials collection, moving into aesthetic and "high art" considerations only when it comes to Shakespeare (an area in which we ought to be collecting as wide a range of material as possible, and an area that does not appeal to art museums much anymore). For example, although we have some notable prints by Stefano Della Bella (1610-1664), at this time his prints should be collected only when the subject matter is such that the print would be purchased even if the artist were unknown.
Early modern: In many respects, target areas for subject-driven development of the art collection are pre-determined by the known strengths of the book and manuscript collection. For example, to complement French and Dutch political pamphlets, we can focus on visual material representing French and Dutch current events. Likewise, to complement the Trevelyon manuscript, we can focus on acquiring the printed visual images used as source material.
Collection priority is given to British material and to European material that helps to illuminate British civilization. Suitable areas for subject-driven collecting of early-modern visual materials, primarily prints, include:
- city views (especially London and places mentioned in Shakespeare)
- costume illustrations
- current events (especially festivals, Reformation, Civil War, Glorious Revolution, French and Dutch politics)
- daily life (especially trades and occupations, including visual representations of the "good woman"; the "happy husband"; and other complements to conduct literature)
- memento mori
- numerical series (Four seasons; Five senses; Seven ages of man, etc.)
- performances (including masques)
Early modern artists
Works by specific artists will most often be outside our collecting interests, since the equivalents of Shakespeare, Jonson, or Dryden in the visual arts are the territory of art museums. However, specific early modern artists known for their book illustrations should be within our scope, regardless of subject matter, because studying these works will allow researchers to better understand the artist's book illustrations. Artists in this category include:
- Hans Vredeman de Vries (1527-ca. 1604)
- Francis Delaram (1589 or 90-1627)
- The van de Passe family (16th and 17th c.)
- Renold Elstracke (fl. 1590-1630)
- Abraham Bosse (1602-1676)
- Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677)
- William Marshall (fl. 1617-1650)
- Romeyn de Hooghe (1645-1708)
Shakespeare and the theater
- graphic material (particularly prints) relating to the 18th-century theater
- graphic material (particularly prints) relating to Shakespeare and his works
- graphic material (particularly prints) relating to Shakespearean actors (including ephemera such as *Juvenile drama and penny-plain/twopence coloured prints)
- non-Shakespeare theatrical material that builds on the Craven Collection's strengths (e.g. John Liston/Paul Pry)
Artists known for their Shakespeare work
The art collection has enviable existing strengths in original "high art" Shakespeareana, including works by the artists listed below (known for their Shakespeare art). Whether or not we acquire additional drawings and paintings by these artists, we should endeavor to develop book and manuscript holdings related to their Shakespearean works.
- Francis Hayman (1708-1776)
- George Romney (1734-1802)
- Henry Fuseli (1741-1825)
- William Hamilton (1750 or 1751-1801)
- Robert Smirke (1752-1845)
- Richard Westall (1766-1836)
- John Masey Wright (1777-1866)
- John Cawse (ca.1779-1862)