From Cranach and Dürer to Rubens and Rembrandt: Prints Collected by Bridwell Library for Perkins School of Theology
More than 500 years ago, the medium of printmaking established itself as the most popular of all Western art forms. Easily portable and affordable, prints brought a wide range of images, sacred and profane, to all levels of society. The early printmakers were particularly concerned with the power of Christian imagery to teach and inspire. In conjunction with From Cranach to Monet: Highlights of the Pérez Simón Collection, the Meadows Museum will exhibit in its first-floor galleries 25 of these early works, all of which were recently purchased for Bridwell Library’s graphics collection. They include outstanding engravings, woodcuts, and religious etchings by Europe’s leading graphic artists of the Renaissance and Baroque eras—Martin Schongauer, Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach, Hans Holbein the Elder, Lucas van Leyden, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Claude Mellan, Peter Paul Rubens, and Rembrandt van Rijn.
Bridwell Library was founded in 1950 by Joseph S. Bridwell (1885-1966), a Texas oilman and rancher. Inspired by the vision of Joe and Lois Perkins, founders of Perkins School of Theology, and by the enthusiasm of Director Decherd Turner, Bridwell and his daughter, Margaret Bridwell Bowdle, began to provide special funds for rare book acquisitions in 1962, when the library purchased more than 200 books printed during the 15th century. Throughout the subsequent decades of collecting, the Bridwell Foundation supported the library’s dual role as the leading theological research and rare book repository in the region. It financed such spectacular purchases as the “Trier II” fragment of the Gutenberg Bible, all 17 editions of St. Augustine’s City of God printed during the 15th century, essential theological texts from the Reformation period to the rise of Methodism, important artist’s books from Dürer to Matisse and Picasso, and monuments of fine printing and master bookbinding. While these collections have grown to international importance, highlighted by more than 1,000 15th-century editions, collections given by individuals make up an important part of the library’s holdings as well. The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Bible Collection, a spectacular assemblage of historically significant manuscript and printed Bibles, will be exhibited concurrently with the Meadows Museum print exhibition at Bridwell Library’s Prothro Galleries in fall 2006. During the last decade, the library has established a new collection focusing on graphic arts of the Renaissance and Baroque periods as a complement to the library’s longstanding collection of books illustrated by such artists as Lucas Cranach, Hans Holbein, Jacques Callot, and Peter Paul Rubens—many of whom were pupils, teachers, and colleagues of the old masters featured in the From Cranach to Monet exhibition.