Special Collections and Museums holdings encompass all periods and styles of fine, decorative, and applied arts. Collections are particularly strong in works on painting technique and instruction, the decorative arts of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, architecture, and the book arts. The collection supports University research in art, art history, and the University of Delaware/Winterthur Programs in Early American Culture and Art Conservation.
Included in the fine arts collection are early works such as Joachim von Sandrart’s L’Academia todesca della architectura, sculptura & pittura (1675-79), the first French edition of Leonardo da Vinci’s Traitté de la peinture (1651), and technical essays such as William Faithorne’s The Art of Graveling, and Etching (1662). There is a superb collection of material on art instruction from the eighteenth and nineteenth century such as Gabriel Smith’s The School of Art, or, Most Compleat Drawing-book Extant (1765), and A Series of Progressive Lessons, Intended to Elucidate the Art of Flower Painting in Water Colours (1818). Special Collections also holds a small, but significant collection of original artwork, including a group of watercolors by George and Robert Cruikshank. The Mark Samuels Lasner Collection features British art from the period 1850-1900 and also includes many original works by the renowned caricaturist Max Beerbohm (1872-1956). Among the art-related manuscript collections are the extensive Lloyd Goodrich and Edith Havens Goodrich-Albert Pinkham Ryder Archive, and collections pertaining to Jack B. Yeats, Gertrude Kasebier, Rockwell Kent, and the Futurist Movement.
Architectural holdings range from early works such as Peter Paul Rubens’s architectural pattern book Palazzi…di Genova (1708) and Vincenzo Scamozzi’s L’idea della architettura universale (1615) to important American works such as Asher Benjamin’s The Country Builder’s Assistant (1797) and A. J. Davis’s Rural Residences (1837). A group of original architectural drawings in ink and watercolor by Henry Holland (circa 1786) depict English country houses. Archival collections relating to Delaware and Philadelphia architects including Collins and Autenrieth, Charles A. Rubicam, C. E. Rahn, and E. William Martin.
The decorative arts collection is especially strong in furniture design including Thomas Chippendale’s The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director (1762), Thomas Sheraton’s The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer’s Drawing-book (1794), and J. Stokes’s The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer’s Companion (1852). Special Collections also holds a large collection of trade catalogs for furniture, hardware, and decorative items from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries.
The book arts collection contains many fine examples of illustration and colorplate books. Outstanding examples by the finest nineteenth-century color printers including Owen Jones, George Baxter, and Henry Noel Humphreys are in the collection. Many contemporary artists books and fine press books contain original prints by artists such as Leonard Baskin, Jim Dine, and Richard Diebenkorn.