Fine Arts

The Rosenbach’s collection of paintings includes important American portraits by Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Sully, Bass Otis, Matthew Jouett, and John Wesley Jarvis; and European genre paintings including those attributed to Angelica Kauffman and the American expatriate Benjamin West. Many paintings are installed in the historic house where Rosenbach family portraits and travel souvenirs by artists of the school of Caneletto lend a personal quality to the collection.

Drawings range from the Italian Renaissance to the present, and from informal sketches to master drawings to preliminary drawings for book illustration. Artists include 18th-century French masters Fragonard, Le Prince, and Gravelot, as well as a rare portrait by Jacques Louis David; pencil drawings by William Blake and John Tenniel; and drawings from the Rosenbach’s Maurice Sendak holdings.

The collection of prints focuses on those associated with book illustration and shares many original artists with the Rosenbach’s drawings collection. Original artists represented by prints include Aubrey Beardsley, George Cruikshank, John Tenniel, and Charles Balthazer Julien Saint-Memin. Printmakers of note include the Dalziel Brothers, David Edwin, and William Blake. The Rosenbach also preserves nearly two hundred late-18th and 19th-century copper and steel printing plates used in printing both independent works and book illustrations, including designs by such noted artists as Thomas Sully and Titian Peale.

Sculpture in the collections dates from ancient Egypt and Cyprus to 20th-century Europe, with materials including bronze, stone, wood, and ceramic.

Collection Highlights

Portrait of an old man

The late-sixteenth-century artist Federico Zuccari (or Zuccaro) traveled widely, and his art reflects broad influences and has broad appeal. The soft, painterly feel of this portrait is typical of his chalk drawings, but on closer examination it is evident that it was created with fine, parallel lines. Admiring the artist’s…

Portrait of Joseph Gratz

This portrait depicts a stately, elderly Joseph Gratz (1785-1858). Gratz's age and costume suggest that the painting was done around 1850. The artist, G.P.A. Healy was an extremely prolific portraitist, known for his images of famous men. Among Healy's American subjects were Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, Millard Fillmore, John Tyler,…

Portrait of Maria Gratz by Thomas Sully

Maria Cecil Gist Gratz was the first wife of Benjamin Gratz. The couple lived in Lexington, Kentucky, but had their portraits painted by Thomas Sully in 1831 while on an extended visit to visit Benjamin's Philadelphia relatives. They also had Sully paint a portrait of Benjamin's sister Rebecca to bring…

Portrait of Maria Gratz by Thomas Sully, dated 1831

Maria Cecil Gist Gratz was the first wife of Benjamin Gratz. The couple lived in Lexington, Kentucky, but had their portraits painted by Thomas Sully in 1831 while on an extended visit to visit Benjamin's Philadelphia relatives. They also had Sully paint a portrait of Benjamin's sister Rebecca to bring…

Portrait of Rebecca Gratz

This elegant portrait of Rebecca Gratz (1781-1869) was painted by Thomas Sully in 1831, when Rebecca was 50. The painting descended through the family of Sara Gratz Moses, the daughter of Rachel Gratz and Solomon Moses. Rebecca Gratz had raised Sara and her siblings after Rachel died in childbirth when…

The Jabberwock

The poem Jabberwocky was begun by a 23-year-old Lewis Carroll in 1855—the first stanza appeared that year in Mischmash, a private periodical he circulated among his family. The completed poem did not appear until 1871, in Through the Looking Glass, for which this illustration was drawn. Although this drawing lacks…

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Gravelot

This week’s blog post comes to us from collections intern Rebecca Schott. Hubert Francois Gravelot was a French illustrative artist during the early half of the 1700’s, and is credited with bringing the French Rococo style to English decorative art. Gravelot began his career by studying art in Paris and Rome but eventually settled on …

William Morris

We have posted before about William Morris’s Kelmscott Press, which strove to elevate the craft of hand-printing in the late 19th-century. but the Rosenbach also has an interesting example of Morris’s work in another arena: textile design. William Morris (1834-1896) wore many hats in his life: poet, novelist, artist, printer, manufacturer, political activist, and more. …