Morgan and the Formation of the Early Medieval Collection

Morgan and the Formation of the Early Medieval Collection

The Vermand Treasure
(a) Rectangular mount. Gilt silver, niello. Provincial Roman, late 4th—early 5 th cen­tury. From Vermand, France. Length 9.4 cm.
(в) Spear-shaft mount. Gilt silver, niello. Provincial Roman, late 4th-early 5 th cen­tury. From Vermand, France. Length 12.2 cm.
(c)Spear-shaft mount. Gilt silver, niello. Provincial Roman, late 4th-early 5 th cen­tury. From Vermand, France. Length 3 cm.
(d) Buckle. Gilt silver, niello. Provincial Roman, late 4th—early 5 th century. From Vermand, France. Length 6 cm. 

Morgan and the Formation of the Early Medieval Collection

John Pierpont Morgan, born April 17,1837, and died March 31,1913, was the most powerful and dominant personality in the field of finance during the period between the American Civil War and the Universal War of 1914.

The Early Medieval archaeological material acquired by the Museum between its founding in 1870 and the Morgan donation in 1917 is relatively inconsequential. Under the Museum s first director, Louis Palma di Cesnola (1879-1904), who laid the foundation of the Greek and Roman Department, the collection of “Etruscan and Roman Jewelry” accumulated by Samuel T. Baxter in Florence was purchased in 1895.

Morgan and the Formation of the Early Medieval Collection

A typical plate from the first catalogue of Morgan’s Frankish antiquities illustrating examples of seventh-century openwork belt fittings (chatelaines) (after de Ricci 1910a, pi. 13, reduced)

The collectors of the second half of the nineteenth century,… seem to have considered barbarian art as unworthy of their attention…. and it is only of late years that such objects have been deemed worthy of a place in distinguished cabinets.”5 E)e Ricci’s catalogue was one of three volumes, published privately between June 191c and July 1911, documenting Morgan’s purchase of four major, largely Merovingian, collections from France and Germany.
De Ricci felt able to state in the first catalogue: “Few museums and fewer private collections can boast of such an extensive and comprehensive series of fine Merovingian antiquities. Morgan had acquired, de Ricci wrote, the collection of a “clever and energetic Paris dealer, the late Stanislas Baron,” accumulated in the previous twenty years during Baron’s travels in the south of France. The French phrase is particularly redolent of the title of Boulanger’s great compendium of 1902—5. The author of these catalogues, M. de Ricci, who has been assisted in his work by several French savants of repute, has suggested that copies of the printed catalogue be sent to several of his masters: Bibliotheque du Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris, Bibliotheque du Musee de St.-Germain-en-Laye, Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres;
M. Salomon Reinach, Membre de l’lnstitut; M. W. Froehner; M. Pottier, Conservateur au Musee du Louvre;
M. J. Pilloy, St. Quentin (Aisne); M.Theophile Eck, Directeur de Musee de St. Quentin; M. Dechelette,
Directeur du Musee de Roanne;
M. Cumont, Musee de Cinquante- naire, Bruxelles; M. le Commandant Esperandieu, Ministere de la Guerre, Paris; James Loeb, Munich.
The preceding paragraphs of this letter had discussed de Ricci s catalogue of 1911, containing the 363 Gallo- Roman and Merovingian artifacts, which was compiled with the assistance of the same luminaries as the two previous ones; and as with the two catalogues of 1910, Morgans instructions to Seligmann concerned the recipients of the numbered volume: “1-5 to my New York house; 6—10 to the MMA; 11 to M. Pottier; 12 to Mr. Rey; 13 for me …” In 1911 the Vrap Treasure of eighth- century gold (pp. 170—79 and 180—87) was offered to the Metropolitan Museum.