Art at the DIACollections

Ishtar Gate, Dragon of Marduk MushhushImage Details
Ishtar Gate, Dragon of Marduk Mushhush (31.25)

European Art

The DIA's collection of European art is one of the largest and most distinguished in the United States. With a broad range of paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts from across Europe, the collection includes works spanning nearly all historical periods from Ancient Greece and Rome up to 1950.

The European collection was inaugurated with the gift of a group of 100 Old Master paintings from newspaper magnate James Scripps in 1889. After years of steady growth, the collection achieved international stature with the arrival of director William Valentiner in 1924. Under his direction, and with the support of numerous benefactors, an outstanding group of works from artists such as Della Robbia, Bellini, Titian, Rembrandt, Rubens, Rodin, and many others was assembled. In 1970, Robert H. Tannahill bequeathed his collection of paintings from the 1800's, which included a strong core of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works that significantly enriched the European collection. With ongoing acquisitions, the collection continues to grow in both breadth and depth every year.

Highlights

View Selections of European Painting, Sculpture, and Modern Art


Portrait of Postman Roulin

Portrait of Postman Roulin — Vincent Willem van Gogh, 1888

The Thinker

The Thinker — Auguste Rodin, 1904

Fruit, Carafe and Glass

Fruit, Carafe and Glass — Pablo Picasso, 1938

The Wedding Dance

The Wedding Dance — Pieter Bruegel the Elder, c. 1566

Triton with a Shell

Triton with a Shell — Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini, c. 1630–before 1642

European Paintings

Recognized as one of the finest collections in America, the European paintings collection contains an extraordinarily wide range of paintings from across Europe. It includes vast holdings of Italian paintings, particularly rich in works from the 1400's to 1700's. The Netherlandish, Dutch and Flemish schools are also outstanding for their depth and quality, highlighted by masterpieces by Bruegel, Rembrandt and Rubens. The French school contains major works from the 1600's to 1800's, including a fine group of post-impressionist pictures by Degas, Cézanne and Seurat. The DIA's British collection is representative, and although holdings of German and Spanish works are modest, they include magnificent examples. The many highlights of the collection include Bruegel's The Wedding Dance, van Ruisdael's The Jewish Cemetery, plus works by Poussin, Caravaggio and many others.

Join the European Paintings Council today to meet other art lovers and learn more about the behind the scenes of the DIA's stunning European Paintings collection.

European Sculpture and Decorative Arts

The collection of sculpture and decorative arts contains over 7,000 objects in a wide range of media, including armor, ceramics, furniture, glass, ivories, jewelry, precious metalwork, tapestries, and sculpture in all materials and sizes. The collection spans from the 400's through the 1800's and represents all major movements and traditions in European art from the Byzantine and early Christian periods through Art Nouveau.

One especially strong concentration is Italian sculpture, which includes works by Nino Pisano, Donatello, Luca della Robbia, Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini, and other important Italian artists. The medieval collection is also notable for its sculpture, as well as its superb ivories, enamels and stained glass. The northern Renaissance is represented by important collections of German limewood sculpture and stained glass. The department has a special depth in French sculpture and decorative arts from the 1700's, including Sèvres porcelain, furniture, silver, and tapestries by master craftsmen who received commissions from the French court and other royal courts throughout Europe. In addition, there is an important and growing focus on European sculpture from the 1800's, especially models and rare or unique works by Rude, Carpeaux, Gerôme, Gauguin, and Rodin.

Join the Visiting Committee for European Sculpture and Decorative Arts today to meet other art lovers and learn more about the behind the scenes of the DIA's stunning European Sculpture and Decorative Arts collection.

Modern Art

The Modern Art collection encompasses a wide range of impressive works in painting, sculpture, and decorative arts from the first half of the twentieth century in Europe. This important collection owes its breadth and depth to a few remarkable individuals. William Valentiner, museum director from 1924 to 1945, was a friend and supporter of German artists in the early years of the 20th century and, through his efforts, major works by German Expressionist artists are among the collection's recognized strengths. Gifts, as well as a sizable bequest, of works of art from Detroit collector Robert H. Tannahill enriched the collection with many works by modern French and German artists, including Pablo Picasso, Max Beckmann, and Henri Matisse. More recent collecting has created a fine collection of Viennese decorative arts objects. Other highlights of the collection include major paintings by Joan Miro and Yves Tanguy as well as important sculptures by Henry Moore and Max Ernst.

Join the Friends of Modern and Contemporary Art today to meet other art lovers and learn more about the behind the scenes of the DIA's stunning Modern and Contemporary collections.

Ancient Western Antiquities

The Ancient Western Antiquities Collection contains a stunning selection of classical Greek, Etruscan, and Roman art, including sculpture, jewelry, amphorae, and other decorative arts. The collection was established under the direction of William Valentiner, who had been actively collecting ancient works since the late 1800's, and who added to this by purchasing a significant collection of classical art that had been housed in the German city of Gotha.

Significant works include the Greek Panathenaic Amphora from the Panathenaic games in the 300's B.C., the finely crafted Etruscan Bronze Horseman, and the Roman statue, Venus Genetrix.

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