Curatorial Internships

Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College

2015

Caitlin Cummings

 

I had the unparalleled privilege of working directly with the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century prints that were included in Matthew Vassar’s original gift to the college. The process of learning in such an immersive environment equipped me with a variety of essential curatorial skills that are sure to enhance my future career, and the experience encouraged me to pursue connoisseurship in the field of Old Master prints.  

On one of my more memorable days as a Curatorial Intern, I made a discovery about Christ and the Woman of Samaria (1523) by Dirk Vellert. The Rijksmuseum, Cleveland Museum of Art, and British Museum each had one of these prints as well. I compared our print to the digital images and was soon perplexed by a distinct disparity. One of the most noticeably absent elements of the print that in front of me was that it lacked the linear design of clouds and white mountains in the background. Similarly, each museum noted the inclusion of the “1523” date inscribed in the top center of the plate on their prints (an element also missing from mine). I was dismayed that neither Hollstein nor Bartsch recorded a state of this print that matched the one I had. At that point, I knew either this was a very poor copy of the original plate, or this print was possibly one of the earliest states of the authentic plate. I took my hypothesis and all the evidence back to Ms. Phagan, by the time she was done with her analysis she agreed that this state of the print seemed to predate those that were recorded in Hollstein and Bartsch. Being able to say that I made what appears to be a “Vellert discovery” was (and still is) the proudest moment of my young and budding career.

My curatorial internship through the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center was certainly the highlight of my life. I never imagined that I would be blessed in this way, with a priceless and unique education regarding the handling of Old Master prints and a truly delightful experience, which I’ll never forget.