The Cloisters museum in Fort Tryon Park in Washington Heights, Manhattan, New York City, specializes in European medieval architecture, sculpture and decorative arts, with a focus on the Romanesque and Gothic periods. Governed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it contains a large collection of medieval artworks shown in the architectural settings of French monasteries and abbeys. Its buildings are centered around four cloisters—the Cuxa, Saint-Guilhem, Bonnefont and Trie—which were purchased by American sculptor and art dealer George Grey Barnard, dismantled in Europe between 1934 and 1939, and moved to New York. They were acquired for the museum by financier and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Other major sources of objects were the collections of J. P. Morgan and Joseph Brummer.
The museum's building was designed by architect Charles Collens, on a site on a steep hill, with upper and lower levels. It contains medieval gardens and a series of chapels and themed galleries, including the Romanesque, Fuentidueña, Unicorn, Spanish and Gothic rooms. The design, layout, and ambiance of the building is intended to evoke a sense of medieval European monastic life.
It holds about 5,000 works of art and architecture, all European and mostly dating from the Byzantine to the early Renaissance periods, mainly during the 12th through 15th centuries. The varied objects include stone and wood sculptures, tapestries, illuminated manuscripts and panel paintings, of which the best known include the c. 1422 Early Netherlandish Mérode Altarpiece and the c. 1495–1505 Flemish Hunt of the Unicorn tapestries.
Rockefeller purchased the museum site in Washington Heights in 1930, and donated it and the Bayard collection to the Metropolitan in 1931. Upon its opening on May 10, 1938, the Cloisters was described as a collection "shown informally in a picturesque setting, which stimulates imagination and creates a receptive mood for enjoyment".
View from the main entrance
|Established||May 10, 1938|
|Location||99 Margaret Corbin Drive, Fort Tryon Park|
Manhattan, New York City
|Public transit access||Subway: |
190th Street, 191st Street
Bus: Bx7, M3, M4, M100
The basis for the museum's architectural structure came from the collection of George Grey Barnard, an American sculptor and collector who almost single-handedly established a medieval art museum near his home in the Fort Washington section of Upper Manhattan. Although he was a successful sculptor who had studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, his income was not enough to support his family. Barnard was a risk taker and led most of his life on the edge of poverty. He moved to Paris in 1883 where he studied at the Académie des Beaux-Arts. He lived in the village of Moret-sur-Loing, near Fontainebleau, between 1905 and 1913, and began to deal in 13th- and 14th-century European objects to supplement his earnings. In the process he built a large personal collection of what he described as "antiques", at first by buying and selling stand-alone objects with French dealers, then by the acquisition of in situ architectural artifacts from local farmers.
Barnard was primarily interested in the abbeys and churches founded by monastic orders from the 12th century. Following centuries of pillage and destruction during wars and revolutions, stones from many of these buildings were reused by local populations. A pioneer in seeing the value in such artifacts, Barnard often met with hostility to his effort from local and governmental groups. Yet he was an astute negotiator who had the advantage of a professional sculptor's eye for superior stone carving, and by 1907 he had built a high-quality collection at relatively low cost. Reputedly he paid $25,000 for the Trie buildings, $25,000 for the Bonnefort and $100,000 for the Cuxa cloisters. His success led him to adopt a somewhat romantic view of himself. He recalled bicycling across the French countryside and unearthing fallen and long-forgotten Gothic masterworks along the way. He claimed to have found the tomb effigy of Jean d'Alluye face down, in use as a bridge over a small stream. By 1914 he had gathered enough artifacts to open a gallery in Manhattan.
Barnard often neglected his personal finances, and was so disorganized that he often misplaced the origin or provenance of his purchases. He sold his collection to John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1925 during one of his recurring monetary crises. The two had been introduced by the architect William W. Bosworth. Purchased for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the acquisition included structures that would become the foundation and core of the museum. Rockefeller and Barnard were polar opposites in both temperament and outlook and did not get along; Rockefeller was reserved, Barnard exuberant. The English painter and art critic Roger Fry was then the Metropolitan's chief European acquisition agent and acted as an intermediary. Rockefeller eventually acquired Barnard's collection for around $700,000, retaining Barnard as an advisor.
In 1927 Rockefeller hired Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., son of one of the designers of Central Park, and the Olmsted Brothers firm to create a park in the Fort Washington area. In February 1930 Rockefeller offered to build the Cloisters for the Metropolitan. Under consultation with Bosworth, he decided to build the museum at a 66.5-acre (26.9 ha) site at Fort Tryon Park, which they choose for its elevation, views, and accessible but isolated location. The land and existing buildings were purchased that year from the C. K. G. Billings estate and other holdings in the Fort Washington area. The Cloisters building and adjacent 4-acre (1.6 ha) gardens were designed by Charles Collens. They incorporate elements from abbeys in Catalonia and France. Parts from Sant Miquel de Cuixà, Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, Bonnefont-en-Comminges, Trie-sur-Baïse and Froville were disassembled stone-by-stone and shipped to New York City, where they were reconstructed and integrated into a cohesive whole. Construction took place over a five-year period from 1934. Rockefeller bought several hundred acres of the New Jersey Palisades, which he donated to the State in an effort to preserve the view from the museum. The Cloisters' new building and gardens were officially opened on May 10, 1938, though the public was not allowed to visit until four days later.
Rockefeller financed the purchase of many of the early collection of works, often buying independently and then donating the items to the museum. His financing of the museum has led to it being described as "perhaps the supreme example of curatorial genius working in exquisite harmony with vast wealth". The second major donor was the industrialist J. P. Morgan, founder of the Morgan Library & Museum in New York, who spent the last 20 years of his life acquiring artworks, "on an imperial scale" according to art historian Jean Strous, spending some $900 million (inflation adjusted) in total. After his death, his son J. P. Morgan Jr. donated a large number of works from the collection to the Metropolitan.
A further major early source of objects was the art dealer Joseph Brummer (1883–1947), long a friend of a curator at the Cloisters, James Rorimer. Rorimer had long recognized the importance of Brummer's collection, and purchased large quantities of objects in the months after Brummer's sudden death in 1947. According to Christine E. Brennan of the Metropolitan, Rorimer realized that the collection offered works that could rival the Morgan Collection in the Metropolitan's Main Building, and that "the decision to form a treasury at The Cloisters was reached... because it had been the only opportunity since the late 1920s to enrich the collection with so many liturgical and secular objects of such high quality." These pieces, including works in gold, silver, and ivory, are today held in the Treasury room of the Cloisters.
The museum's collection of artworks consists of approximately five thousand individual pieces. They are displayed across a series of rooms and spaces, mostly separate from those dedicated to the installed architectural artifacts. The Cloisters has never focused on building a collection of masterpieces, rather the objects are chosen thematically yet arranged simply to enhance the atmosphere created by the architectural elements in the particular setting or room in which they are placed. To create the atmosphere of a functioning series of cloisters, many of the individual works, including capitals, doorways, stained glass, and windows are placed within the architectural elements themselves.
The museum's best-known panel painting is Robert Campin's c. 1425–28 Mérode Altarpiece, a foundational work in the development of Early Netherlandish painting, which has been at The Cloisters since 1956. It acquisition was funded by Rockefeller and described at the time as a "major event for the history of collecting in the United States". The triptych is well preserved with little overpainting, glossing, dirt layers or paint loss. Other panel paintings in the collection include a Nativity triptych altarpiece attributed to a follower of Rogier van der Weyden, and the Jumieges panels by an unknown French master.
The 12th-century English walrus ivory Cloisters Cross contains over ninety-two intricately carved figures and ninety-eight inscriptions. A similar 12th-century French metalwork reliquary cross contains six sequences of engravings on either side of its shaft, and across the four sides of its lower arms. Further pieces of note include a 13th-century, English Enthroned Virgin and Child statuette, a c. 1490 German statue of Saint Barbara, and an early 16th-century boxwood Miniature Altarpiece with the Crucifixion. Other significant works include fountains and baptismal fonts, chairs, aquamaniles (water containers in animal or human form), bronze lavers, alms boxes and playing cards.
The museum has an extensive collection of medieval European frescoes, ivory statuettes, reliquary wood and metal shrines and crosses, as well as examples of the very rare Gothic boxwood miniatures. It has liturgical metalwork vessels and rare pieces of Gothic furniture and metalwork. Many pieces are not associated with a particular architectural setting, so their placement in the museum may vary. Some of the objects have dramatic provenance, including those plundered from the estates of aristocrats during the French Revolutionary Army's occupation of the Southern Netherlands. The Unicorn tapestries were for a period used by the French army to cover potatoes and keep them from freezing. The set was purchased by Rockefeller in 1922 and six of the tapestries hung in his New York home until donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1938.
The museum's collection of illuminated books is small, but of exceptional quality. J.P. Morgan was a major early donor, but although his taste leaned heavily towards rare printed and illuminated books, he donated very few to the Metropolitan, instead preserving them at the Morgan Library. At the same time, the consensus within the Met was that the Cloisters should focus on architectural elements, sculpture and decorative arts to enhance the environmental quality of the institution, whereas manuscripts were considered more suited to the Morgan Library in lower Manhattan. The Cloisters' books are today displayed in the Treasury room, and include the French "Cloisters Apocalypse" (or "Book of Revelation", c. 1330, probably Normandy), Jean Pucelle's "Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux" (c. 1324–28), the "Psalter of Bonne de Luxembourg", attributed to Jean Le Noir and the "Belles Heures du Duc de Berry" (c. 1399–1416) attributed to the Limbourg brothers. In 2015 the Cloisters acquired a small Netherlandish Book of Hours illuminated by Simon Bening. Each is of exceptional quality, and their acquisition was a significant achievement for the museum's early collectors.
A coat of arms illustrated on one of the leaves of the "Cloisters Apocalypse" suggests it was commissioned by a member of the de Montigny family of Coutances, Normandy. Stylistically it resembles other Norman illuminated books, as well as some designs on stained glass, of the period. The book was in Switzerland by 1368, possibly at the abbey of Zofingen, in the canton of Aargau. It was acquired by the Met in 1968.
The "Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux" is a very small early Gothic book of hours containing 209 folios, of which 25 are full-page miniatures. It is lavishly decorated in grisaille drawings, historiated initials and almost 700 border images. Jeanne d'Évreux was the third wife of Charles IV of France, and after their deaths the book went into the possession of Charles' brother, Jean, duc de Berry. The use of grisaille (shades of gray) drawings allowed the artist to give the figures a highly sculptural form, and the miniatures contain structures typical of French Gothic architecture of the period. The book has been described as "the high point of Parisian court painting", and evidence of "the unprecedentedly refined artistic tastes of the time".
The "Belles Heures" is widely regarded as one of the finest extant examples of manuscript illumination, and very few books of hours are as richly decorated. It is the only surviving complete book attributed to the Limbourg brothers. Rockefeller purchased the book from Maurice de Rothschild in 1954, and donated it to the Metropolitan.
The very small "Bonne de Luxembourg" manuscript (each leaf 12.5 × 8.4 × 3.9 cm) is attributed to Jean le Noir, and noted for its preoccupation with death. It was commissioned for Bonne de Luxembourg, Duchess of Normandy, daughter of John the Blind and the wife of John II of France, probably at the end of her husband's life, c. 1348–49. It was in a private collection for many years, and thus known only through poor-quality photographic reproductions until acquired by the museum in 1969. Produced in tempera, grisaille, ink, and gold leaf on vellum, it had been rarely studied and was until that point misattributed to Jean Pucelle. Following its acquisition, it was studied by art historians, after which attribution was given to Le Noir.
While examples of textile art are displayed throughout the museum, there are two dedicated rooms given to individual series of tapestries, the South Netherlandish Nine Heroes (c. 1385) and FlemishThe Hunt of the Unicorn (c. 1500). The Nine Heroes room is entered from the Cuxa cloisters. Its 14th-century tapestries are one of the earliest surviving examples of tapestry, and are thought to be the original versions following widely influential and copied designs attributed to Nicolas Bataille. They were acquired over a period of twenty years, involving the purchase of more than 20 individual fragments which were then sewn together during a long reassembly process. The chivalric figures represent the scriptural and legendary Nine Worthies, who consist of three pagans (Hector, Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar), three Jews (Joshua, David and Judas Maccabeus) and three Christians (King Arthur, Charlemagne and Godfrey of Bouillon). Of these, five figures survive: Hector, Caesar, Joshua, David and Arthur. They have been described as representing "in their variety, the highest level of a rich and powerful social structure of later fourteenth-century France".
The Hunt of the Unicorn room can be entered from the hall containing the Nine Heroes via an early 16th-century door carved with representations of unicorns. The unicorn tapestries consist of a series of large, colourful hangings and fragment textiles designed in Paris and woven in Brussels or Liège. Noted for their vivid colourization—dominated by blue, yellow-brown, red, and gold hues—and the abundance of a wide variety of flora, they were produced for Anne of Brittany and completed c. 1495–1505. The tapestries were purchased by Rockefeller in 1922 for about one million dollars, and donated to the museum in 1937. They were cleaned and restored in 1998, and are now hung in a dedicated room on the museum's upper floor.
The large "Nativity" panel (also known as "Christ is Born as Man's Redeemer") from c. 1500, South Netherlandish (probably in Brussels), Burgos Tapestry was acquired by the museum in 1938. It was originally one of a series of eight tapestries representing the salvation of man, with individual scenes influenced by identifiable panel paintings, including by van der Weyden. It was badly damaged in earlier centuries: it had been cut into several irregular pieces and undergone several poor-quality restorations. The panel underwent a long process of restoration from 1971, undertaken by Tina Kane and Alice Blohm of the Metropolitan's Department of Textile Conservation. It is today hung in the Late Gothic hall.
The Cloisters' collection of stained glass consists of around three hundred panels, generally French and Germanic and mostly from the 13th to early 16th centuries. A number were formed from handmade opalescent glass. Works in the collection are characterized by vivid colors and often abstract designs and patterns; many have a devotional image as a centerpiece. The majority of these works are in the museum's Boppard room, named after the Carmelite church of Saint Severinus in Boppard, near Koblenz, Germany. The collection's pot-metal works (from the High Gothic period) highlight the effects of light, especially the transitions between darkness, shadow and illumination. The Met's collection grew in the early 20th century when Raymond Picairn made acquisitions at a time when medieval glass was not highly regarded by connoisseurs, and was difficult to extract and transport.
Jane Hayward, a curator at the museum from 1969 who began the museum's second phase of acquisition, describes stained glass as "unquestioningly the preeminent form of Gothic medieval monumental painting". She bought c. 1500 heraldic windows from the Rhineland, now in the Campin room with the Mérode Altarpiece. Hayward's addition in 1980 led to a redesign of the room so that the installed pieces would echo the domestic setting of the altarpiece. She wrote that the Campin room is the only gallery in the Met "where domestic rather than religious art predominates...a conscious effort has been made to create a fifteenth-century domestic interior similar to the one shown in [Campin's] Annunciation panel." Other significant acquisitions include late 13th-century grisaille panels from the Château-de-Bouvreuil in Rouen, glass work from the Cathedral of Saint-Gervais-et-Saint-Protais at Sées, and panels from the Acezat collection, now in the Heroes Tapestry Hall.
The building is set into a steep hill, and thus the rooms and halls are divided between an upper entrance and a ground-floor level. The enclosing exterior building is mostly modern, and is influenced by and contains elements from the 13th-century church at Saint-Geraud at Monsempron, France, from which the northeast end of the building borrows especially. It was mostly designed by the architect Charles Collens, who took influence from works in Barnard's collection. Rockefeller closely managed both the building's design and construction, which sometimes frustrated the architects and builders.
The building contains architecture elements and settings taken mostly from four French abbeys, which between 1934 and 1939 were transported, reconstructed, and integrated with new buildings in a project overseen by Collins. He told Rockefeller that the new building "should present a well-studied outline done in the very simplest form of stonework growing naturally out of the rocky hill-top. After looking through the books in the Boston Athenaeum ... we found a building at Monsempron in Southern France of a type which would lend itself in a very satisfactory manner to such a treatment."
The architects sought to both memorialize the north hill's role in the American Revolution and to provide a sweeping view over the Hudson River. Construction of the exterior began in 1935. The stonework, primarily of limestone and granite from several European sources, includes four Gothic windows from the refectory at Sens and nine arcades. The dome of the Fuentidueña Chapel was especially difficult to fit into the planned area. The east elevation, mostly of limestone, contains nine arcades from the Benedictine priory at Froville and four flamboyant French Gothic windows from the Dominican monastery at Sens.
Located on the south side of the building's main level, the Cuxa cloisters are the museum's centerpiece both structurally and thematically. They were originally erected at the Benedictine Abbey of Sant Miquel de Cuixà on Mount Canigou, in the northeast French Pyrenees, which was founded in 878. The monastery was abandoned in 1791 and fell into disrepair; its roof collapsed in 1835 and its bell tower fell in 1839. About half of its stonework was moved to New York between 1906 and 1907. The installation became one of the first major undertakings by the Metropolitan after it acquired Barnard's collection. After intensive work over the fall and winter of 1925–26, the Cuxa cloisters were opened to the public on April 1, 1926.
The quadrangle-shaped garden once formed a center around which monks slept in cells. The original garden seemed to have been lined by walkways around adjoining arches lined with capitals enclosing the garth.  It is impossible now to represent solely medieval species and arrangements; those in the Cuxa garden are approximations by botanists specializing in medieval history. The oldest plan of the original building describes lilies and roses. Although the walls are modern, the capitals and columns are original and cut from pink Languedoc marble from the Pyrenees. The intersection of the two walkways contains an eight-sided fountain.
The capitals were carved at different points in the abbey's history and thus contain a variety of forms and abstract geometric patterns, including scrolling leaves, pine cones, sacred figures such as Christ, the Apostles, angels, and monstrous creatures including two-headed animals, lions restrained by apes, mythic hybrids, a mermaid and inhuman mouths consuming human torsos. The motifs are derived from popular fables, or represent the brute forces of nature or evil, or are based on late 11th- and 12th-century monastic writings, such as those by Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153). The order in which the capitals were originally placed is unknown, making their interpretation especially difficult, although a sequential and continuous narrative was probably not intended. According to art historian Thomas Dale, to the monks, the "human figures, beasts, and monsters" may have represented the "tension between the world and the cloister, the struggle to repress the natural inclinations of the body".
The Saint-Guilhem cloisters were taken from the site of the Benedictine monastery of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, and date from 804 AD to the 1660s. Their acquisition around 1906 was one of Barnard's early purchases. The transfer to New York involved the movement of around 140 pieces, including capitals, columns and pilasters. The carvings on the marble piers and column shafts recall Roman sculpture and are coiled by extravagant foliage, including vines. The capitals contain acanthus leaves and grotesque heads peering out, including figures at the Presentation at the Temple, Daniel in the Lions' Den and the Mouth of Hell, and several pilasters and columns. The carvings seem preoccupied with the evils of hell. Those beside the mouth of hell contain representations of the devil and tormenting beasts, with, according to Young, "animal-like body parts and cloven hoofs [as they] herd naked sinners in chains to be thrown into an upturned monster's mouth".
The Guilhem cloisters are inside the museum's upper level and are much smaller than originally built. Its garden contains a central fountain and plants potted in ornate containers, including a 15th-century glazed earthenware vase. The area is covered by a skylight and plate glass panels which conserves heat in the winter months. Rockefeller had initially wanted a high roof and clerestory windows, but was convinced by Joseph Breck, curator of decorative arts at the Metropolitan, to install a skylight. Breck wrote to Rockefeller that "by substituting a skylight for a solid ceiling ... the sculpture is properly illuminated, since the light falls in a natural way; the visitor has the sense of being in the open; and his attention, consequently, is not attracted to the modern superstructure."
The Bonnefont cloisters were assembled from several French monasteries, but mostly come from a late 12th-century Cistercian Abbaye de Bonnefont at Bonnefont-en-Comminges, southwest of Toulouse. The abbey was intact until at least 1807, and by the 1850s all of its architectural features had been removed from the site, often for decoration of nearby buildings. Barnard purchased the stonework in 1937. Today the Bonnefont cloisters contain 21 double capitals, and surround a garden that contains many features typical of the medieval period, including a central wellhead, raised flower beds and lined with wattle fences. The marbles are highly ornate and decorated, some with grotesque figures. The inner garden has been set with a medlar tree of the type found in The Hunt of the Unicorn tapestries, and is centered around a wellhead placed at Bonnefont-en-Comminges in the 12th century. The Bonnefort is on the upper level of the museum and gives a view of the Hudson river and the cliffs of The Palisades.
The Trie cloisters was compiled from two late 15th- to early 16th-century French structures. Most of its components came from the Carmelite convent at Trie-sur-Baïse in south-western France, whose original abbey, except for the church, was destroyed by Huguenots in 1571. Small narrow buttresses were added in New York during the 1950s by Breck. The rectangular garden hosts around 80 species of plants and contains a tall limestone cascade fountain at its center. Like those from Saint-Guilhem, the Trie cloisters have been given modern roofing.
The convent at Trie-sur-Baïse featured some 80 white marble capitals carved between 1484 and 1490. Eighteen were moved to New York and contain numerous biblical scenes and incidents form the lives of saints. Several of the carvings are secular, including those of legendary figures such as Saint George and the Dragon, the "wild man" confronting a grotesque monster, and a grotesque head wearing an unusual and fanciful hat. The capitals are placed in chronological order, beginning with God in the act of creation at the northwest corner, Adam and Eve in the west gallery, followed by the Binding of Isaac, and Matthew and John writing their gospels. Capitals in the south gallery illustrate scenes from the life of Christ.
During periods of political unrest and military invasion, gardens became essential for community survival. The Cloisters' three gardens, the Judy Black Garden at the Cuxa Cloister on the main level, and the Bonnefont and Trie Cloisters gardens on the lower level, were laid out and planted in 1938. They contain a variety of rare medieval species, with a total of over 250 genera of plants, flowers, herbs and trees, making it one of the world's most important collections of specialized gardens. The garden's design was overseen by Rorimer during the museum's construction. He was aided by Margaret Freeman, who conducted extensive research into the keeping of plants and their symbolism in the Middle Ages. Today the gardens are tended by a staff of horticulturalists; the senior members are also historians of 13th- and 14th-century gardening techniques.
The Gothic chapel is set on the museum's ground level, and was built to display its stained glass and large sculpture collections. The entrance from the upper level Early Gothic Hall is lit by stained glass double-lancet windows, carved on both sides, and acquired from the church of La Tricherie, France. The ground level is entered through a large door at its east wall. This entrance begins with a pointed Gothic arch leading to high bayed ceilings, ribbed vaults and buttress. The three center windows are from the church of Sankt Leonhard, in southern Austria, from c. 1340. The glass panels include a depiction of Martin of Tours as well as complex medallion patterns. The glass on the east wall comes from Evron Abbey, Normandy, and dates from around 1325. The apse contains three large sculptures by the main windows; two larger than life-size female saints dating from the 14th century, and a Burgundian Bishop dating from the 13th. The large limestone sculpture of Saint Margaret on the wall by the stairs dates to around 1330 and is from the church of Santa Maria de Farfanya in Lleida, Catalonia.
Each of the six effigies are supreme examples of sepulchral art. Three are from the Bellpuig Monastery in Catalonia. The monument directly facing the main windows is the c. 1248–67 sarcophagus of Jean d'Alluye, a knight of the crusades, who was thought to have returned from the Holy Land with a relic of the True Cross. He is shown as a young man, his eyes open, and dressed in chain armor, with his longsword and shield. The female effigy of a lady, found in Normandy, dates to the mid 13th century and is perhaps of Margaret of Gloucester. Although resting on a modern base, she is dressed in high contemporary aristocratic fashion, including a mantle, cotte, jewel-studded belt and an elaborate ring necklace brooch.
Four of the effigies were made for the Urgell family, are set into the chapel walls, and are associated with the church of Santa Maria at Castello de Farfanya, redesigned in the Gothic style for Ermengol X (died c. 1314). The elaborate sarcophagus of Ermengol VII, Count of Urgell (d. 1184) is placed on the left hand wall facing the chapel's south windows. It is supported by three stone lions, and a grouping of mourners carved into the slab, which also shows Christ in Majesty flanked by the Twelve Apostles. The three other Urgell tombs also date to the mid 13th century, and maybe of Àlvar of Urgell and his second wife, Cecilia of Foix, the parents of Ermengol X, and that of a young boy, possibly Ermengol IX, the only one of their direct line ancestors known to have died in youth. The slabs of the double tomb on the wall opposite Ermengol VII, contain the effigies of his parents, and have been slanted forward to offer a clear view of the stonework. The heads are placed on cushions, which are decorated with arms. The male's feet rest on a dog, while the cushion under the woman's head is held by an angel.
The Fuentidueña chapel is the museum's largest room, and is entered through a broad oak door flanked by sculptures which include leaping animals. Its centerpiece is the Fuentidueña Apse, a semicircular Romanesque recess built between about 1175 to 1200 at the Saint Joan church at Fuentidueña, Segovia. By the 19th century, the church was long abandoned and in disrepair.
It was acquired by Rockefeller for the Cloisters in 1931, following three decades of complex negotiation and diplomacy between the Spanish church and both countries' art-historical hierarchies and governments. It was eventually exchanged in a deal that involved the transfer of six frescoes from San Baudelio de Berlanga to the Prado, on an equally long-term loan. The structure was disassembled into almost 3,300 mostly sandstone and limestone blocks, each individually cataloged, and shipped to New York in 839 crates.
It was rebuilt at the Cloisters in the late 1940s It was such a large and complex reconstruction that it required the demolition of the former "Special Exhibition Room". The chapel was opened to the public in 1961, seven years after its installation had begun.
The apse consists of a broad arch leading to a barrel vault, and culminates with a half-dome. The capitals at the entrance contain representations of the Adoration of the Magi and Daniel in the lions' den. The piers show Martin of Tours on the left and the angel Gabriel announcing to The Virgin on the right. The chapel includes other, mostly contemporary, medieval artwork. They include, in the dome, a large fresco dating to between 1130–50, from the Spanish Church of Sant Joan de Tredòs. The fresco's colorization resembles a Byzantine mosaic and is dedicated to the ideal of Mary as the mother of God. Hanging within the apse is a crucifix made between about 1150 to 1200 for the Convent of St. Clara in Astudillo, Spain. Its reverse contains a depiction of the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God), decorated with red and blue foliage at its frames. The exterior wall holds three small, narrow and stilted windows, which are nevertheless designed to let in the maximum amount of light. The windows were originally set within imposing fortress walls; according to the art historian Bonnie Young "these small windows and the massive, fortress-like walls contribute to the feeling of austerity ... typical of Romanesque churches."
The Langon chapel is on the museum's ground level. Its right wall was built around 1126 for the Romanesque Cathédrale Notre-Dame-du-Bourg de Digne. The chapter house consists of a single aisle nave and transepts taken from a small Benedictine parish church built around 1115 at Notre Dame de Pontaut. When acquired, it was in disrepair, its upper level in use as a storage place for tobacco. About three-quarters of its original stonework was moved to New York.
The chapel is entered from the Romanesque hall through a doorway, a large, elaborate French Gothic stone entrance commissioned by the Burgundian court for Moutiers-Saint-Jean Abbey in Burgundy, France. Moutiers-Saint-Jean was sacked, burned, and rebuilt several times. In 1567, the Huguenot army removed the heads from the two kings, and in 1797 the abbey was sold as rubble for rebuilding. The site lay in ruin for decades and lost further sculptural elements until Barnard arranged for the entrances' transfer to New York. The doorway had been the main portal of the abbey, and was probably built as the south transept door.
Carvings on the elaborate white oolitic limestone doorway depict the Coronation of the Virgin and contains foliated capitals and statuettes on the outer piers; including two kings positioned in the embrasures and various kneeling angels. Carvings of angels are placed in the archivolts above the kings. The large figurative sculptures on either side of the doorway represent the early Frankish kings Clovis I (d. 511) and his son Chlothar I (d. 561). The piers are lined with elaborate and highly detailed rows of statuettes, which are mostly set in niches, and are badly damaged; most have been decapitated. The heads on the right hand capital were for a time believed to represent Henry II of England. Seven capitals survive from the original church, with carvings of human figures or heads, some of which as have been identified as historical persons, including Eleanor of Aquitaine.
The Romanesque hall contains three large church doorways, with the main visitor entrance adjoining the Guilhem Cloister. The monumental arched Burgundian doorway is from Moutier-Saint-Jean de Réôme in France and dates to c. 1150. Two animals are carved into the keystones; both rest on their hind legs as if about to attack each other. The capitals are lined with carvings of both real and imagined animals and birds, as well as leaves and other fauna. The two earlier doorways are from Reugny, Allier, and Poitou in central France. The hall contains four large early-13th-century stone sculptures representing the Adoration of the Magi, frescoes of a lion and a wyvern, each from the Monastery of San Pedro de Arlanza in north-central Spain. On the left of the room are portraits of kings and angels, also from the monastery at Moutier-Saint-Jean. The hall contains three pairs of columns positioned over an entrance with molded archivolts. They were taken from the Augustinian church at Reugny. The Reugny site was badly damaged during the French Wars of Religion and again during the French Revolution. Most of the structures had been sold to a local man, Piere-Yon Verniere, by 1850, and were acquired by Barnard in 1906.
The Treasury room was opened in 1988 to celebrate the museum's 50th anniversary. It largely consists of small luxury objects acquired by the Met after it had built its initial collection, and draws heavily on acquisitions from the collection of Joseph Brummer. The rooms contains the museum's collection of illuminated manuscripts, the French 13th-century arm-shaped silver reliquary, and a 15th-century deck of playing cards.
The Cloisters contains one of the Metropolitan's 13 libraries. Focusing on medieval art and architecture, it holds over 15,000 volumes of books and journals, the museum's archive administration papers, curatorial papers, dealer records and the personal papers of Barnard, as well as early glass lantern slides of museum materials, manuscript facsimiles, scholarly records, maps and recordings of musical performances at the museum. The library functions primarily as a resource for museum staff, but is available by appointment to researchers, art dealers, academics and students. The archives contain early sketches and blueprints made during the early design phase of the museum's construction, as well as historical photographic collections. These include photographs of medieval objects from the collection of George Joseph Demotte, and a series taken during and just after World War II showing damage sustained to monuments and artifacts, including tomb effigies. They are, according to curator Lauren Jackson-Beck, of "prime importance to the art historian who is concerned with the identification of both the original work and later areas of reconstruction". Two important series of prints are kept on microfilm: the "Index photographique de l'art en France" and the German "Marburg Picture Index".
The Cloisters is governed by the board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan's collections are owned by a private corporation of about 950 fellows and benefactors. The board of trustees comprise 41 elected members, several officials of the City of New York, and persons honored as trustees by the museum. The current chairman of the board is the businessman and art collector Daniel Brodsky, who was elected in 2011, having previously served on its Real Estate Council in 1984 as a trustee of the museum and Vice Chairman of the Buildings Committee.
A specialist museum, the Cloisters regularly acquires new works and rarely sells or otherwise gets rid of them. While the Metropolitan does not publish separate figures for the Cloisters, the entity as a whole spent $39 million on acquisitions for the fiscal year ending in June 2012. The Cloisters seeks to balance its collection between religious and secular artifacts and artworks. With secular pieces, it typically favors those that indicate the range of artistic production in the medieval period, and according to art historian Timothy Husband, "reflect the fabric of daily [medieval European] life but also endure as works of art in their own right". In 2011 it purchased the then-recently discovered The Falcon's Bath, a Southern Netherlands tapestry dated c. 1400–1415. It is of exceptional quality, and one of the best preserved surviving examples of its type. Other recent acquisitions of significance include the 2015 purchase of a Book of Hours attributed to Simon Bening.
The museum's architectural settings, atmosphere, and acoustics have made it a regular setting both for musical recitals and as a stage for medieval theater. Notable stagings include The Miracle of Theophilus in 1942, and John Gassner's adaption of The Second Shepherds' Play in 1954. Recent significant exhibitions include "Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures" which ran in the summer of 2017 in conjunction with the Art Gallery of Ontario and Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
The museum is a well-known New York City landmark and has been used as a filming location. In 1948, director Maya Deren used its ramparts as a backdrop for her experimental film Meditation on Violence. That year, German director William Dieterle used the Cloisters as the location for a convent school in his film Portrait of Jennie. The 1968 film Coogan's Bluff used the site's pathways and lanes for a scenic motorcycle chase.
The Archaeological Museum of Milan (Civico Museo Archeologico di Milano in Italian) is located in the ex-convent of the Monastero Maggiore, alongside the ancient church of San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore, with entrance on Corso Magenta.
The first part of the museum, sited in the original site of Corso Magenta, is dedicated to the history of Mediolanum (ancient Milan) founded in the 4th century BC and conquered by the ancient Romans in 222 BC. In the basement floor there is also a small section about Gandhara's arts.
The inner cloister, where Roman remains (1st-3rd century AD) and two medieval towers are visible, connects the first part of the museum with the new building sited in via Nirone. In this part of the Archaeological Museum of Milan are sited, on four floors, the Early Middle Ages section, the Etruscan section, the Ancient Greek section and the temporary exhibition room.
In the Middle Ages polygonal tower sited in the inner cloister are exposed a Domenico Paladino sculpture donated by the artist to the museum that fits in the frescoed medieval structure.
Collections of the museum from prehistoric and Egyptian civilisations are housed at the Castello Sforzesco Museums.Statues and tombs from ancient Rome are displayed along the cloisters of the former monastery, and a path leads from the cloisters to a "polygonal tower (late third century) with early medieval frescoes (thirteenth century) and comes out in the new museum in Via Nirone where the early medieval section is on the first floor."Cloisters Cross
The Cloisters Cross, also referred to as the Bury St Edmunds Cross, is a complex 12th-century ivory Romanesque altar cross in The Cloisters, part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The cross is carved from walrus ivory.Fan vault
A fan vault is a form of vault used in the Gothic style, in which the ribs are all of the same curve and spaced equidistantly, in a manner resembling a fan. The initiation and propagation of this design element is strongly associated with England.
The earliest example, dating from about the year 1351, may be seen in the cloisters of Gloucester Cathedral. The largest fan vault in the world can be found in King's College Chapel, Cambridge.
The fan vault is peculiar to England. The lierne vault of the cathedral of Barbastro in northern Spain closely resembles a fan vault, but it does not form a perfect conoid. Harvey (1978) suggests Catherine of Aragon as a possible source of English influence in Aragon.Fort Tryon Park
Fort Tryon Park is a public park located in the Hudson Heights and Inwood neighborhoods of the borough of Manhattan in New York City. The 67 acres (27 ha) park is situated on a ridge in Upper Manhattan, with a commanding view of the Hudson River, the George Washington Bridge, the New Jersey Palisades, Washington Heights, Inwood, The Bronx and the Harlem River. It extends from Margaret Corbin Circle in the south to Riverside Drive at Dyckman Street in the north, and from Broadway in the east to the Henry Hudson Parkway in the west. The main entrance to the park is at Margaret Corbin Circle, at the intersection of Fort Washington Avenue and Cabrini Boulevard.
The area was known by the name Chquaesgeck by the local Lenape tribe, and was called Lange Bergh (Long Hill) by Dutch settlers until late in the 17th century. It was the location where the Battle of Fort Washington was fought in the American Revolutionary War, but it was, and remained, sparsely populated. By the turn of the 20th century, it was the location of large country estates.
The park was the creation of philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who bought up several of the estates beginning in 1917 in order to create it. He engaged the Olmsted Brothers firm – formed by the sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, step-brothers John Charles Olmsted and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. – to design the park, and gave it to the city in 1931; James W. Dawson created the planting plan. The park was completed in 1935.Rockefeller also bought sculptor George Gray Barnard's collection of medieval art and gave to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which from 1934 to 1939 built The Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park to house it. The Cloisters, which was designed by Charles Collens, incorporates several medieval buildings that were purchased in Europe, brought to the United States, and reassembled, often stone by stone. It is home to the Unicorn Tapestries.
The park is built on a formation of Manhattan schist and contains interesting examples of igneous intrusions and of glacial striations from the last Ice Age. The lower lying regions to the east and north of the park are built on Inwood marble. The northern boundary of the park is formed by the Dyckman Street Fault.Fort Tryon Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and was designated a New York City Scenic Landmark in 1983.Froville
Froville is a commune in the Meurthe-et-Moselle department in north-eastern France.
It is noted for its romanesque church, with a gothic cloister, part of which was moved to the Cloisters Museum of New York City.
Froville hosts a festival of sacred and baroque music.James Rorimer
James Joseph Rorimer (September 7, 1905 – May 11, 1966), was an American museum curator and former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he was a primary force behind the creation of the Cloisters, a branch of the museum dedicated to the art and architecture of Medieval Europe. During World War II, Rorimer served in the U.S. Army's Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Section, a.k.a. the "Monuments Men," protecting cultural sites and recovering stolen art work.Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City, colloquially "the Met", is the largest art museum in the United States. With 6,953,927 visitors to its three locations in 2018, it was the third most visited art museum in the world. Its permanent collection contains over two million works, divided among seventeen curatorial departments. The main building, on the eastern edge of Central Park along Museum Mile in Manhattan's Upper East Side is by area one of the world's largest art galleries. A much smaller second location, The Cloisters at Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan, contains an extensive collection of art, architecture, and artifacts from Medieval Europe. On March 18, 2016, the museum opened the Met Breuer museum at Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side; it extends the museum's modern and contemporary art program.
The permanent collection consists of works of art from classical antiquity and ancient Egypt, paintings, and sculptures from nearly all the European masters, and an extensive collection of American and modern art. The Met maintains extensive holdings of African, Asian, Oceanian, Byzantine, and Islamic art. The museum is home to encyclopedic collections of musical instruments, costumes, and accessories, as well as antique weapons and armor from around the world. Several notable interiors, ranging from 1st-century Rome through modern American design, are installed in its galleries.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded in 1870 for the purposes of opening a museum to bring art and art education to the American people. It opened on February 20, 1872, and was originally located at 681 Fifth Avenue.Paradise Island
Paradise Island is an island in the Bahamas formerly known as Hog Island. The island, with an area of 277 hectares (685 acres) (2.8 km2/1.1 sq mi), is located just off the shore of the city of Nassau, which is itself located on the northern edge of the island of New Providence. It is best known for the sprawling resort Atlantis with its extensive water park rides, pools, beach, restaurants, walk-in aquarium and casinos.Paradise Island is connected to the island of New Providence by two bridges that cross Nassau Harbour. The first was built in 1966 by Resorts International, and the second in the late 1990s.Play of Daniel
The Play of Daniel, or Ludus Danielis, is either of two medieval Latin liturgical dramas based on the biblical Book of Daniel, one of which is accompanied by monophonic music.
Two medieval plays of Daniel survive. The first is one of the plays in the Fleury Playbook, a 13th-century manuscript containing ten liturgical dramas; the text is by Hilarius, and no music accompanies it. The play itself dates from c. 1140. The second is a 13th-century drama with monophonic music, written about 1227 to 1234 by students at the school of Beauvais Cathedral, located in northern France. A large portion of the text is poetic rather than strictly liturgical in origin; it closely follows the narrative of the biblical story of Daniel at the court of Belshazzar.In the US the latter play was revived in the 1950s by Noah Greenberg, director of the New York Pro Musica; a commentary in English, written and performed by W. H. Auden, was used in some of their performances. A recorded 1958 performance by the group at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and featuring boy choristers of the Church of the Transfiguration as satraps and soldiers, was released by Decca, with sleeve notes by Paul Henry Lang and Dom Rembert Weakland, O.S.B., who had discovered the text at the British Library. Since the New York Pro Musica production it has enjoyed many performances among early music troupes. Also important in the history of modern revivals of the Beauvais Cathedral version, Daniel was the 1985 production of the Boston Camerata, staged by Andrea von Ramm, with musical direction by Joel Cohen. In 2008, The Dufay Collective and William Lyons released their CD, The Play of Daniel on the Harmonia Mundi usa label. A new production of the Play of Daniel by the Boston Camerata, this time under the direction of French-born medievalist Anne Azéma, was presented in Boston in November, 2014. Daniel was played by tenor Jordan Weatherston Pitts.
In 2008, a new production, staged by Drew Minter with musical direction by Mary Anne Ballard in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the noted Cloisters production of 1958, was created, also at the Cloisters. The show has been reprised in subsequent seasons, in 2012 at the Cloisters and in 2013 and 2014 as part of the Twelfth Night Festival at Trinity Church Wall Street.Richard Roach Jewell
Richard Roach Jewell (1810 in Barnstaple, Devon, England – 1891 in Perth, Western Australia) was an architect who designed many of the important public buildings in Perth during the latter half of the nineteenth century. He was employed to supervise many major building projects around England, churches in Bristol, Cardiff, Clifton, Eye, Horsley and Stroudswater. As well as churches he also supervised construction of Stanstead College, a military prison in Gosport and fortifications at Portland Castle and Southsea Castle. He was also employed as a clerk of works in the offices of Sir Charles Barry.Rivonia Square
Rivonia Square is the previous name of a shopping centre, including shops, the post office, a fitness centre and restaurants, along a thoroughfare called Rivonia Boulevard in Rivonia, Johannesburg. Late in 2012 the centre was renamed 'Oriental City'. It includes the area occupied by the first shopping centre built on the site – the Cloisters Shopping Centre. The Cloisters took its name from the Rivonia Convent, a closed order of Carmelite nuns, which originally existed on the site.Rue Saint-Honoré
The rue Saint-Honoré is a street in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, France.
It is named after the collegial Saint-Honoré church situated in ancient times within the cloisters of Saint-Honoré.
The street, on which are located a number of museums and upscale boutiques, is near the Jardin des Tuileries and the Saint-Honoré market. Like many streets in the heart of Paris, the rue Saint-Honoré, as it is now known, was laid out as early as the Middle Ages or before.
The street, at one time, continued beyond the former city walls into what was the faubourg (from Latin foris burgem, an area "outside the city"). This continuation was eventually named the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.The Cloisters, Perth
The Cloisters is located at 200 St Georges Terrace, opposite its intersection with Mill Street in Perth, Western Australia. It is a two-storey dark coloured brick building, which terminates the vista at the top of Mill Street and is a landmark in the rise of the street to the ridge of the plateau.
The Cloisters is one of a small number of remaining convict-built colonial buildings of the mid-nineteenth century in the central area of Perth.The Cloisters (Letchworth)
The Cloisters in Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire in the UK was built in 1905 as an open-air school dedicated to Psychology and where students were taught skills from the Arts and Crafts movement. After a period of neglect during World War II The Cloisters became the North Hertfordshire Masonic Centre in 1951.The Cloisters (Lutherville, Maryland)
The Cloisters, also known as Cloisters Castle, is a historic home in Lutherville, Baltimore County, Maryland, United States. It was built about 1930 and is a 2 1⁄2-story house, irregular in elevation and plan with much architectural ornament. It is built of large, random-sized blocks of a native gray and gold colored rock known as Butler stone, with details principally of sandstone, wood from the site, plaster, and wrought iron. The main façade is dominated by two asymmetrically placed, projecting sections topped by massive half-timbered gables which were originally part of a Medieval house in Domrémy, France. It also has a massive stone octagonal stair tower, which contains a stone and wrought-iron spiral staircase and is crowned by a crenellated parapet and a small, round, stone-roofed structure from which one can exit onto the roof of the main tower. The house's roof is constructed of overlapping flagstones secured by iron pins, the only roof of this kind in America.The property is owned by Baltimore City, although it is located in Baltimore County. The city ran a children's museum in the building until 1996, when it moved to the Inner Harbor area and was renamed "Port Discovery". The Cloisters is currently operated as a rental facility.
The Cloisters was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.The Curious Savage
The Curious Savage, written by John Patrick, is a comedic play about Ethel P. Savage, an elderly woman whose husband recently died and left her approximately ten million dollars. Contrasting the kindness and loyalty of psychiatric patients with the avarice and vanity of "respectable" public figures, it calls into question conventional definitions of sanity while lampooning celebrity culture. The play was first produced in New York by the Theatre Guild and Lewis & Young at the Martin Beck Theatre and opened October 24, 1950, with Lillian Gish in the role of Ethel. Peter Glenville directed the production.Upper Manhattan
Upper Manhattan is the most northern region of the New York City Borough of Manhattan. Its southern boundary has been variously defined, but 96th Street, the northern boundary of Central Park at 110th Street, 125th Street or 155th Street are some common usages.Upper Manhattan is generally taken to include the neighborhoods of Marble Hill, Inwood, Washington Heights (including Fort George, Sherman Creek and Hudson Heights), Harlem (including Sugar Hill, Hamilton Heights and Manhattanville), East Harlem and parts of the Upper West Side (Morningside Heights and Manhattan Valley).
The George Washington Bridge connects Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan across the Hudson River to Fort Lee, New Jersey, and is the world's busiest motor vehicle bridge.In the late 19th century, the IRT Ninth Avenue Line and other elevated railroads brought people to the previously rustic Upper Manhattan. Until the late 20th century it was less influenced by the gentrification that had taken place in other parts of New York over the previous 30 years.Watley's End
Watley's End was a small village located in South Gloucestershire, England. It now forms the northern part of Winterbourne. Watley's End Road, which runs through the village, would have been the main road.
Watley's End lay sandwiched between the much larger villages of Frampton Cotterell and Winterbourne, eventually becoming part of the latter. The eastern border lay along the River Frome, from Nightingale Bridge down to the Cloisters. The northern border was considered to be Court Road and Frampton Cotterell. Hooper's Farm was considered the western edge. The southern edge of the area started where Park Avenue met North Road and continued east until the Cloisters.
The area features Salem Methodist Church and the defunct Ebenezer Methodist Church. There is also a public house called the Mason's Arms on North Road. Factory Road was named for the beaver hat factory built on what is now Beaver Close. There used to be several small shops in the area, one opposite Salem Church and another grocery shop run by Richard Maggs on the corner of Salem and Common Roads.
Watley's End is also the scene of Winterbourne's thriving Youth and Gymnastics club, at the Fromeside community centre.William Harrison Cowlishaw
William Harrison Cowlishaw (1869–1957) was a British architect of the European Arts and Crafts school and a follower of William Morris.He lived in Norton, Hertfordshire, at that time something of an artists' colony. One of his most famous works is the unusual towered The Cloisters in neighbouring Letchworth Garden City, planned as a theosophical meditation centre and open-air school and which opened in 1907.An earlier work was "The Cearne" in Crockham Hill, Kent, a house designed for Russian-translator Constance Garnett and her literary-editor husband Edward Garnett. It was built in 1896. Cowlishaw married Edward Garnett's youngest sister, Lucy, in April 1897.At the end of World War I, like many Arts and Crafts architects of the period, he was commissioned by the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission to design memorials and cemetery layouts in Flanders and France under Sir Frederic G. Kenyon, the Commission's advisor on architecture and layout.His work included the Pozières Memorial, in the Somme department (completed in 1930), to commemorate the missing of the Fifth and Fourth Armies, killed in 1918. Among the smaller cemeteries he designed were Prowse Point, Rifle House and Devonshire, all around the area of Ypres.
At the Commission, he worked with Charles Holden, a relationship that continued after the memorial work was completed.
Museums in Manhattan
|Financial District and Battery Park|
(Below Chambers St)
|Chelsea, Flatiron, Gramercy|
|Upper West Side|
(59th-125th Sts west of 5th Av)
|Upper East Side and East Harlem|
(59th-125th Sts along or east of 5th Av)
(Above 125th St)
New York City Historic Sites