Ed Rempe Collection of 16th and 17th Century European Decorative Arts

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The Ed Rempe Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a collection of 16th and 17th century European decorative arts donated by New York collector Edmond S. Rempe in 1953. It includes furniture, metalwork, ceramics, glasswork, and textiles.

With an eye toward scholarship as well as design, Rempe assembled his collection with the goal of understanding the techniques and technologies used to create works in these media. The collection’s holdings are particularly strong in enamels and faience, silver, and goldsmiths’ work.

The Bequest of Edmond S. Rempe (as the collection was originally called) was initially installed in Gallery 513 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1954, with a selection on display from time to time since then. In 1988, it was exhibited as part of the exhibition “Fine Style: European Decorative Arts from America” organized by William Griswold for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The LACMA show traveled to eleven other museums across North America, including the Institute for Arts Research at Southern Methodist University (Dallas), Walters Art Gallery (Baltimore), Detroit Institute of Arts, Cleveland Museum of Art and others; a catalogue accompanied that exhibition. In 2003-

The Ed Rempe Collection of 16th and 17th Century European Decorative Arts includes more than 1,500 objects made in France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands during the Renaissance (1500-1700). The primary focus is on ceramics and enamels, but there are also clocks, lamps, mirrors and works in gold, silver and ivory.

The pieces generally fall into one of three categories: exceptional examples of their type; works by major artists that have not been studied by scholars; or works that have been published but rarely seen.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced plans for a new store, an underground complex to be built beneath the museum’s Madison Avenue entrance. The store is being designed by Rem Koolhaas’s OMA, with construction scheduled to begin this fall and to be completed in 2018. The Met Store will remain open until construction begins, and future plans for the site will be announced.

The store has been closed since January 2016 in order to allow the installation of the Ed Rempe Collection of 16th- and 17th-century European decorative arts. This small but rich selection of objects will remain on view after the museum’s regular hours through March 2017, when it will be replaced by a new exhibition. The Met Store reopened to the public on July 15, after a two-month closure.*

The Rempe Collection was acquired by the museum over a 20-year period starting in 1984 and is named for its benefactor, Ed Rempe, who is retired chairman of the museum’s board. It features works in wood, stone, ivory, bronze, silver, ceramics, glass, and textiles from Europe during the Renaissance and Baroque eras.*

The following is an annotated list of the ceramics, glass, and metalwork in the Ed Rempe Collection of 16th and 17th Century European Decorative Arts. The list is organized according to material and then chronologically within each material. To view a item, click on its catalogue entry below.

Entry 1:Object: White marble bust, possibly of Mars or Minerva

Object Number: 11.228

Object Description:

Date: ca. 1550

Provenance: Unknown

Object Notes: The bust has a square base with concave sides, above which is a convex rectangular plinth with a molded projecting collar supported by twisted columns. The figure is seated within the plinth on an arched backrest and wears a helmet; its hair splayed over the collar forms an elaborate fan-shaped pattern. The face is smooth, with no indication of facial features.


Clark et al., eds., Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, 1992), p. 66–67, color pl. 50; Jean Morgan, “Sixteenth-Century Marble Sculpture from Istanbul,” Bulletin de l’Institut Français d’Archéologie

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is home to a large and highly specialized collection of European decorative arts that ranges from the 16th through the 18th centuries. Many of the objects on display are being shown publicly for the first time in decades, or even since their original purchase by the Museum. The collection was originally formed by Ed Rempe, an art dealer who was one of the greatest experts of his generation on the subject of 16th and 17th century decorative arts. After Mr. Rempe’s passing in 1983, Dr. Sidney Alexander, Director of The Cloisters at that time, asked Mrs. Rempe to consider donating her husband’s remarkable collection to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. This donation was formally made in 1986.

The Ed Rempe Collection includes over 6,500 objects representing every aspect of decorative art from this period in Europe, including sculpture and furniture, ceramics and metalwork, textiles and printed books as well as architectural elements such as doorways and chimneypieces. It is unparalleled in scope and diversity anywhere outside Europe.’

Rempe’s collection of 16th and 17th-century European decorative arts is one of the finest of its kind in the United States. Dating from about 1500 to 1700, the objects for the most part are small-scale, made for use by a wealthy individual rather than a large institution. Most are from Spain, Italy, France, Germany and Holland. They include musical instruments (including lutes, violins and harpsichords), clocks, jewelry and silver items.

Models of ships, armor for horses and humans, marble statues and busts are also on display.

Museum curators and conservators have identified many objects from Rempe’s collection as being of museum quality. The two most important pieces in the exhibition were once attributed to Cellini but now are thought to have been made by his followers: a silver saltcellar with twin fountains (1540–46) and a silver-mounted coral rosary (about 1600).

The Rempe Collection has been exhibited at other museums around the world: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Minneapolis Institute of Arts; National Gallery of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Victoria and Albert Museum; Musée des Arts Décoratifs

The Met Store is the place to buy museum-quality merchandise based on objects in the collection, as well as to explore related books and unusual gifts and souvenirs.

The Met Store is open to all visitors, but members enjoy a discount on all purchases, including the Museum’s own publications. You can also purchase membership in the Museum at our locations or by phone.*

Art lovers who have visited the Museum will find our online offerings a treasure trove of exciting merchandise inspired by their favorite collections and exhibitions.

You can search for items by object type or theme, such as “wedding cake,” “hat,” or “carpet,” or by keyword, from “ceramics” to “zodiac.” Many items are available with free shipping within the U.S.*

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