European Painting and Sculpture


The Museum’s holdings of European painting and sculpture offer visitors a view into the history of Western civilization from about 1100 until 1900.  The lives of the aristocracy, the middle class, and the poor are on display.  How they worshipped, what they wore, where they worked, and the stories they told can be found in the galleries.  

Especially noteworthy are the Kress Collection of Italian renaissance and baroque art and the Noah L. and Muriel S. Butkin Collection, the strength of which are prime examples of French academic art.

In 2013 the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century galleries were reinstalled focusing on the strengths of the collection. French art of the “long” nineteenth century (1789–1914) is well represented on the University’s campus. Many of the artists featured here belonged to the Académie des Beaux-Arts (Academy of Fine Arts). Studying their art contributes to our understanding of the social and political structures that underpin cultural production.

A rich collection of oil sketches offers visitors a glimpse into the rigors of academic practice and illustrates the sketch aesthetic that opened the way for greater abstraction and expression in the decades before World War I.