Beginning in the late 1970s, philanthropist Arthur Ross (1910–2007) avidly collected for his eponymous foundation works of art by some of the most renowned printmakers of the last several centuries. The Arthur Ross Collection eventually came to comprise more than 1,200 17th- to 20th-century Italian, Spanish, and French prints of exceptional quality. Highlights include works by Francisco Goya, the first artist whom Ross collected; Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s views of 18th-century and ancient Rome, which reflect Ross’s love of classicism and the Eternal City; and Édouard Manet’s illustrations for Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem The Raven.
Meant to Be Shared: Selections from the Arthur Ross Collection of European Prints is the inaugural exhibition of this superlative group of works in its new home at the Yale University Art Gallery. From the collection’s early years, The Arthur Ross Foundation frequently lent to academic institutions, museums, and cultural organizations, such that for three decades, some portion of the collection was accessible to the public. In this spirit, Meant to Be Shared travels to two university museums in 2017, and further exhibitions of selections from the collection are planned, illustrating both the high aesthetic quality and historical value of the works Ross acquired, as well as the expansive and visionary nature of his generosity.