Meant to Be Shared: Selections from the Arthur Ross Collection of European Prints at the Yale University Art Gallery

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Veduta della Piazza di Monte Cavallo (View of the Piazza di Monte Cavallo [now the Piazza del Quirinale with the Quirinal Palace]), from Vedute di Roma (Views of Rome), 1750. Etching. Yale University Art Gallery, The Arthur Ross Collection

Francisco Goya, Modo de volar (A Way of Flying), also known as Donde hay ganas hay maña (Where There’s a Will There’s a Way), from Los disparates (Los proverbios) (Follies [Proverbs]), ca. 1816–19, published 1864. Etching, aquatint, and drypoint. Yale University Art Gallery, The Arthur Ross Collection

Edgar Degas, The Infanta Margarita, after a painting attributed to Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo, ca. 1861–62. Etching and drypoint. Yale University Art Gallery, The Arthur Ross Collection

December 18, 2015–April 24, 2016

Inaugural exhibition of superlative group of 17th- to 20th-century prints in its new home

The Yale University Art Gallery is delighted to announce Meant to Be Shared: Selections from the Arthur Ross Collection of European Prints at the Yale University Art Gallery, an exhibition presenting highlights of the more than 1,200 prints donated to the Gallery in 2012 by the Arthur Ross Foundation. Beginning in the late 1970s, philanthropist Arthur Ross (1910–2007) avidly collected works of art by some of the most renowned Italian, Spanish, and French printmakers of the last several centuries for his eponymous foundation. Highlights of the Arthur Ross Collection include works by Francisco Goya, the first artist whom Ross collected; Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s images of ancient and 18th-century 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.

Exhibition Overview

The Arthur Ross Collection comprises three major segments. The largest is a group of some 800 18th-century Italian works by Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Giovanni Antonio Canal (called Canaletto), Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and his sons, and others. A group of close to 200 prints by the Spaniard Francisco Goya includes the three intriguing and enigmatic series of etchings he made in the second decade of the 19th century, during which Spain suffered, first, Napoleon Bonaparte’s invasion, and then, with the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy, the repressive rule of King Ferdinand VII. The third segment consists of about 200 French prints by some of the greatest artists of the 19th and 20th centuries: Eugène Delacroix, Honoré Daumier, Camille Pissarro, Édouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso.

This inaugural exhibition features 19 of Goya’s profoundly mysterious Disparates (Los proverbios) (Follies [Proverbs]) series, made around 1816 to 1819 but not published in Goya’s lifetime, for fear of the Inquisition. Ten images from the Tauromaquia (The Art of Bullfighting; 1815, published 1816) series and nine of the Desastres de la guerra (Disasters of War; ca. 1810–11, published 1863) are on display as well. The installation also highlights illustrations of great works of literature—one of the salient themes of the French work—including Delacroix’s 13 lithographs illustrating William Shakespeare’s Hamlet (1834–43) and some of his illustrations for Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust (1827, published 1828), and Manet’s truly revolutionary illustrations for Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven (1875).

An entire gallery is devoted to views of places that might have been visited on the Italian segment of the Grand Tour, the cultural tour of Europe that was deemed an essential cap to the classical education of young gentlemen, especially those from Britain. Sparkling views of the Venetian region by Canaletto set the stage. The largest section is devoted to Rome; this part of the exhibition features a spectacular six-by-seven-foot map of the Eternal City, published in 1748, designed by the surveyor Giovanni Battista Nolli, and 20 of Piranesi’s Vedute (Views; ca. 1748–60) of Rome. The final area focuses on images of Pompeii and Paestum, in southern Italy, where in the mid-18th century rediscoveries of ancient sites excited the intelligentsia across Europe.

The title of the exhibition, Meant to Be Shared, reflects the raison d’être of the collection. Arthur Ross collected these prints for his foundation with the express purpose, in the words of his widow, Janet C. Ross, “to lend first-class prints … to educational institutions in the United States and abroad that would not otherwise have access to such objects for study and enjoyment.” In this spirit, the inaugural exhibition travels to the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida, Gainesville, in early 2017, and to the Syracuse University Art Galleries, New York, later that year. Gallery staff members have partnered with Harn Museum Director Rebecca M. Nagy and Syracuse University Art Galleries Director Domenic Iacono to plan ways to use the prints as teaching tools at each institution—including related university courses, public programs, and close-looking sessions—throughout the run of the exhibition.
Suzanne Boorsch, the Gallery’s Robert L. Solley Curator of Prints and Drawings and curator of the exhibition, explains, “Far and away the most difficult aspect of preparing this exhibition was to make a selection from the abundance of riches that constitute this extraordinary donation. The possibilities that the Arthur Ross Collection offers for exhibition, research, and teaching are virtually endless, and, indeed, this inaugural exhibition and the collection catalogue are just the beginning of the rewards to be reaped by the study and enjoyment of this gift.”

The Gallery’s mission of sharing its collections broadly honors both the legacy of Arthur Ross and the value of the work he collected. Jock Reynolds, the Gallery’s Henry J. Heinz II Director, states, “We are grateful that the Arthur Ross Foundation has chosen the Gallery to be the steward of this remarkable collection, ensuring its proper care and always sharing it generously with active learners of all ages.”

On View

Yale University Art Gallery

December 18, 2015–April 24, 2016

Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida, Gainesville

January 29–May 8, 2017

Syracuse University Art Galleries, New York

August 17–November 19, 2017

Related Publication

Meant to Be Shared: The Arthur Ross Collection of European Prints

Essays by Suzanne Boorsch, Douglas Cushing, Alexa A. Greist, Elisabeth Hodermarsky, Sinclaire Marber, John E. Moore, and Heather Nolin

With a foreword by Janet C. Ross

This important volume offers the first comprehensive look at the Arthur Ross Collection—more than 1,200 18th- to 20th-century Italian, Spanish, and French prints—and is published to mark the inaugural exhibition of the collection in its new home at the Yale University Art Gallery. Highlights include superb etchings by Canaletto and Tiepolo; the four volumes of Piranesi’s Antiquities of Rome, as well as his famous Vedute (Views) and Carceri (Prisons); Goya’s Tauromaquia in its first edition of 1816; an extremely rare etching by Edgar Degas; and numerous other 19th-century French prints, by Eugène Delacroix, Honoré Daumier, Édouard Manet, Paul Gauguin, Paul Cézanne, and others. The accompanying essays discuss the life of Arthur Ross, a significant philanthropist who funded arts institutions locally, in New York, nationally, and internationally; the formation of the collection and the art-historical significance of the works; and a range of thematic approaches to studying the collection, reinforcing its legacy as an important teaching resource.

View Related Publication

Related Programs

All programs are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. For more detailed programming information, visit

Members Previews

Wednesday, December 16, 12:00 and 3:00 pm

Registration required; call 203.432.9658 or email

Exhibition Tours

Wednesday, January 13, 12:30 pm

Heather Nolin, Assistant Director of Exhibitions, Programming, and Education, Yale University
Art Gallery

Wednesday, January 20, 12:30 pm

Suzanne Boorsch, the Robert L. Solley Curator of Prints and Drawings, Yale University Art Gallery

Gallery Talks

Wednesday, December 9, 12:30 pm

“Piranesi’s Rome: The Vision of an 18th-Century Architect and Printmaker”

Jakub Koguciuk, Ph.D. candidate in the History of Art and Renaissance Studies, Yale University

Wednesday, February 24, 12:30 pm

“Bullfighting: Audience and Perspective in Prints by Antonio Carnicero, Francisco Goya, and
Pablo Picasso”

Ian Althouse, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Yale University

Wednesday, February 24, 1:30 pm

“Las corridas de toros: Audiencia y mirada en el arte de Antonio Carnicero, Francisco Goya y
Pablo Picasso” (in Spanish)

Ian Althouse

Wednesday, April 13, 12:30 pm

Intensité, Obscurité, Frivolité: The Proliferation of Print Media in 19th-Century France”

Lisa Hodermarsky, the Sutphin Family Senior Associate Curator of Prints and Drawings, Yale University Art Gallery

Ryerson Lectures

Thursday, January 21, 5:30 pm

“Goya’s Prints in Context”

Janis A. Tomlinson, Director of University Museums, University of Delaware, Newark

Friday, February 5, 1:30 pm

“The Marriage of Venice and Rome, or What Makes Piranesi Great?”

Andrew Robison, the Andrew W. Mellon Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Friday, April 1, 1:30 pm

“From Paris to Tahiti: Paul Gauguin’s Innovative Prints”

Elizabeth C. Childs, the Etta and Mark Steinberg Professor of Art History and Chair of the Department of Art History and Archaeology, Washington University in Saint Louis


Thursday, March 31, 5:30 pm

Chamber Music of the 18th Century

Tiny Baroque Orchestra

Studio Programs

Friday, February 12, 1:30 and 3:00 pm

Printmaking Workshops

Inspired by the over 1,200 prints in the Arthur Ross Collection, Mauricio Cortes Ortega, M.F.A. candidate, and Caroline Sydney, SM ’16, both of Yale University, invite visitors to explore the art of printmaking. In this hands-on workshop, participants learn the basic techniques of intaglio printing and create a unique print of their own. Space is limited. Registration required; please call 203.432.9525.

Exhibition organized by Suzanne Boorsch, the Robert L. Solley Curator of Prints and Drawings, with the assistance of Heather Nolin, Assistant Director of Exhibitions, Programming, and Education. Made possible by the Arthur Ross Foundation.

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