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May 06, 2016 (March 08, 2024)

Jonathan Bober, Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings at National Gallery of Art, Washington (2011–2023)

Jonathan Bober was named the National Gallery of Art’s Andrew W. Mellon Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings in 2016. In this position, Bober oversaw the continuing work and growth of the National Gallery’s three departments of prints and drawings.

From 2011 to 2016, Bober served as curator and head of old master prints at the National Gallery of Art and has played a very active role across the institution, from key acquisitions to mentoring emerging scholars. Bober led the acquisition of nearly 5,500 prints and drawings by purchase, gift, and promised gift, most notably 18th-century Venetian and 19th-century Italian, making the Gallery’s holdings the most significant in the US. During his tenure in this position, Bober organized ten National Gallery exhibitions, including The Baroque Genius of Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (2012), Northern Mannerist Prints from the Kainen Collection (2013), From Neoclassicism to Futurism: Italian Prints and Drawings, 1800–1925 (2014), Recent Acquisitions of Italian Renaissance Prints: Ideas Made Flesh (2015), and Looking Up: Studies for Ceilings: 1550-1800 (2023). From 2015 to 2016, Bober was the National Gallery’s curatorial liaison to the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (The Center).

Bober came to the National Gallery in 2011 from the Blanton Museum at the University of Texas at Austin, where he served as a curator since 1987, first as curator of prints and drawings; from 1998 as curator of prints, drawings, and European painting; and from 2010 as senior curator of European art. Prior to his work at the Blanton Museum, he was curatorial associate in the print department of the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, from 1984 to 1987, where he completed his graduate work with Sydney Freedberg and Henri Zerner.

Over the course of Bober's career his exhibitions and publications have focused on old master paintings and old master and modern prints and drawings. They include Luca Cambiaso, 15271585, the international loan exhibition of the paintings, drawings, and prints of Luca Cambiaso and his Genoese contemporaries, (co-organized with the Palazzo Ducale, Genoa; Austin, September 2006–January 2007, and Genoa, March–July 2007), and Capolavori della Suida-Manning Collection (co-organized with Giulio Bora, Museo Civico, Cremona, October 2001–April 2002). In addition to catalogs of the Italian drawings in the Fogg Art Museum (1988) and Blanton Museum (2001), and numerous exhibition catalogs at the Blanton, Bober is the author of many catalog essays and scholarly articles appearing in such periodicals as Master Drawings, The Burlington Magazine, and Arte Lombarda. These concern painting and drawing as well as printmaking in 16th- and 17th-century Milan, Cremona, Venice, and Genoa.

Bober acquired for the Blanton Museum 11,000 of its 18,000 works (most with private support), including the extraordinary Suida-Manning Collection of old master paintings and drawings, art critic Leo Steinberg's extensive collection of old master prints, and many outstanding individual works in the field, including modern and contemporary. In addition to organizing exhibitions from the Blanton Museum's collection, such as Prints of the Ancien Régime (1996) and The Language of Prints (2008), Bober maintained a rotation of prints and drawings from the permanent collection in seven dedicated galleries. He helped develop the design of the new Blanton Museum and oversaw the creation of a new center for prints and drawings, which opened in April 2006.

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