Everyone knows the majestic lions in front of the New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. Far less appreciated are these female lions guarding the steps of the Morgan Library on East 36th Street. Both sets of lions were carved by Edward Clark Potter, a sculptor known especially for his life-like depictions of animals.
I was in the Morgan to see an exhibition on romantic gardens curated by Betsy Barlow Rogers, the former head of the Central Park Conservancy. I worked for Betsy early in my career making photos of the park, which were used, in part, for fundraising purposes. I also did more utilitarian photographs for park publications and events. I was offered the job as first full time photographer of Central Park, which I turned down, as tempting as it was–I wanted to remain a free lance photographer. In retrospect it may not have been the best career decision, but it’s doubtful that I would ever have begun my Iron Curtain/Berlin Wall project had I taken the job.
While at the Morgan I also saw an exhibition on the influence of Palladio on American architecture–which was serendipitous since my son is doing a school project on Colonial American architecture. And I saw drawings by Albrecht Dürer including his famed Adam and Eve.
In the main library I saw an original manuscript of Magna Carta from 1217. Here’s a bit from the library’s press release:
One of the earliest original manuscripts of Magna Carta dating to 1217 goes on exhibition Wednesday, April 21, at The Morgan Library & Museum. This extremely rare and important document came to New York for a special event for Oxford University but could not be returned to Britain because of the disruption to air traffic caused by the recent volcanic ash cloud. The Bodleian Library generously offered the Morgan the opportunity to exhibit Magna Carta while new arrangements were being made to transport it back to England. The document is on view at the Morgan through May 30.
As I have noted elsewhere, there are those who would set aside many of the principles set forth in this document, which served as the foundation for the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.