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Collecting for the Nation: The 75th Anniversary of the Lessing J. Rosenwald Gift of Prints and Drawings to the National Gallery of Art

Gregory Jecmen, associate curator of old master prints and drawings, National Gallery of Art. On March 17, 1943, the National Gallery of Art marked its second anniversary with the announcement of an extraordinary gift from print collector and former Sears, Roebuck and Company chairman Lessing J. Rosenwald: Rosenwald's print and drawing collection, ultimately numbering more than 22,000 works at the time of his death in 1979. The collection, with works ranging in date from the late 11th century to the mid-20th century, was the finest ever assembled by one person in the United States, and its donation constituted the single largest gift by a private individual to the nation. The gift immediately catapulted the Gallery’s public collection of prints and drawings into one of the most exceptional in the country. In this lecture recorded on March 16, 2018, Gregory Jecmen reveals Rosenwald’s extraordinary legacy as both a learned print collector and an enthusiastic promoter for the appreciation of the graphic arts. Jecmen also highlights the collection’s strengths and emphasizes selected works by some of Rosenwald’s favorite artists, including Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt van Rijn, William Blake, and James Whistler.