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One of the finest print collections in U.S. donated to Blanton Museum of Art

Noted art historian and critic Leo Steinberg has given his collection of more than 3,200 prints to the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin, Larry R. Faulkner, president of The University of Texas at Austin, and Jessie Otto Hite, director of the museum, have announced.

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AUSTIN, Texas—Noted art historian and critic Leo Steinberg has given his collection of more than 3,200 prints to the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin, Larry R. Faulkner, president of The University of Texas at Austin, and Jessie Otto Hite, director of the museum, have announced.

This encyclopedic collection is among the finest in private hands in the United States and is recognized by scholars for its extraordinary quality, range and depth, and for its representation of rare and unique works. The gift includes prints from the 15th through the 20th centuries, including masterpieces by Marcantonio Raimondi, Albrecht Dürer, Parmigianino, Cornelis Cort, Hendrick Goltzius, Claude Lorrain, Rembrandt, and Francesco Piranesi, as well as William Blake, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, George Grosz, Jasper Johns and many others. At the Blanton Museum, the Leo Steinberg Collection will become a dynamic resource for students, faculty and scholars.

The Blanton Museum is one of the foremost university art museums in the United States, and its collection is the most significant in central Texas. This gift enhances the Blanton’s standing as it develops a new facility scheduled to open in 2005. The new building will provide greatly expanded galleries and teaching spaces for the Blanton’s rapidly growing permanent collection.

Developed by Steinberg, a noted scholar and critic and imaginative explorer of prints, the collection was shaped over four decades by Steinberg’s knowledge and vision. Steinberg has been called “the ideal of what a print collector should be” by Timothy Riggs, scholar of Northern Renaissance prints and the assistant director of the Ackland Art Museum. The collection’s areas of great depth correspond with Steinberg’s diverse historical and critical interests. Ranging from the Renaissance to contemporary art, the collection has long been used by Steinberg as a teaching resource. It reflects his extraordinary understanding of prints as an art form and as “the circulating lifeblood of ideas” for generations of artists.

“Professor Steinberg has dedicated his life to research and education, and has developed one of the richest and most original collections in the field of art history,” Faulkner said. “The University of Texas at Austin shares Professor Steinberg’s passion for building resources that foster scholarship, teaching opportunities and enjoyment across the wide range of disciplines explored in our classrooms, labs and libraries. We celebrate Dr. Steinberg’s kinship in this mission and the landmark print collection he has given to our students and the Blanton’s visitors from around the world.”

The Leo Steinberg Collection resonates within the Blanton’s encyclopedic collection, which now comprises more than 17,000 works of art, and it provides new opportunities for scholars and visitors to explore artists and periods across media. The addition of Steinberg’s print collection reinforces the Blanton’s international stature as a leading museum for the collection, exhibition and study of Old Master paintings, drawings and prints. The gift builds upon the museum’s celebrated Suida-Manning Collection of later Renaissance and Baroque paintings and drawings, which came to the museum as a partial gift in 1998, and strengthens the Blanton’s significant holdings of prints and drawings, which include works ranging from the 15th through the 20th centuries. The Leo Steinberg Collection also complements the Blanton’s noteworthy holdings of 19th- and 20th-century works from the United States and Latin America.

“This gift marks a historic moment for the Blanton Museum of Art and the city of Austin,” Hite said. “This outstanding collection of prints, developed by one of this country’s most passionate and brilliant art historians, will create unparalleled opportunities for studying the later Renaissance and Baroque at the Blanton. The gift of these works brings a new level of distinction to the Blanton as both a center for research, and as a cultural institution serving the people of Austin and visitors from around the world. We are very grateful to Professor Steinberg.”

Steinberg began collecting Italian Renaissance and Mannerist prints, along with reproductive prints of all periods, in the early 1960s – 20 to 30 years before academic and collecting circles were devoting attention to these fields. Continuing to acquire Old Master prints, and adding modern and contemporary works throughout the years, Steinberg formed a comprehensive collection of works representative of his expertise and eye for quality. The collection reflects his distinguished career as a groundbreaking scholar, inspiring teacher, art lover and connoisseur. The correspondences between his own collection and the Blanton’s encyclopedic collection of prints and drawings were important in Steinberg’s decision to make the gift to the museum. In doing so, he has insured that his print collection will provide a range of opportunities for individuals within the university community and beyond to explore the evolution of printmaking from the perspective of a great scholar.

“Having spent most of my life studying art and sharing my enthusiasm with others,” Steinberg said, “it was important to me that this collection live within a museum where it will continue to intrigue and inspire students and be recognized as a resource for teaching, research and sheer pleasure. The Blanton, with its outstanding curator and its far-reaching collections of prints and drawings and Old Master works, provides a perfect fit. I hope this gift will encourage other collectors to further enrich the Blanton’s collections.”

For further information contact: Nicole Chism Griffin, Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, 512-232-1988.