James Bowdoin III and America's Earliest Drawing Collection
The one hundred forty-one old master drawings bequeathed to Bowdoin College in 1811 by James Bowdoin III comprise the earliest collection of public drawings in the United States. These important works, primarily from Italian and Dutch artists active in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, illustrate a range of themes, compositions, and stylistic conventions.
Launched in December 2015, this online scholarly catalogue, a pioneering project for an academic art museum, enables web users around the globe to study these drawings in new depth. Here, readers can carefully study high-resolution reproductions and find detailed documentation of the objects' history, together with interpretative essays about their larger significance. Building on more than two centuries of art collecting at Bowdoin College, we invite you to enjoy this publication, which sheds new light on James Bowdoin III’s revolutionary gift and his visionary commitment to making art a critical part of our shared educational and cultural heritage.