The Kaufman Collection: The pursuit of excellence and a gift to the nation

I will never forget the first time I met George and Linda Kaufman. I had barely started at the Metropolitan, in 1979 or 1980, when I was introduced to George at a reception held at the home of a prominent New York collector.  George, in his usual gregarious way, asked what I was doing in the American Wing. When I replied that I was working with the ceramics and glass collection there, he rejoined with a grin that he and Linda owned one piece of American glass and one piece of American ceramics. When he told me the glass was by Amelung and the porcelain by Bonnin and Morris, I nearly fainted, for they were quite simply the rarest of early American glass and ceramics. In fact, the Amelung was none other than the capacious tumbler signed and dated 1792 and engraved with the Great Seal of the United States that has been described as "the most resplendently nationalistic of all of Amelung's known glasses." The Bonnin and Morris was the openwork basket with the unique decoration of a landscape in underglaze blue, which the Kaufmans loaned to the Metropolitan in 1989, where it remains today. Their collecting zeal saw the addition of three additional examples of Bonnin and Morris porcelain, all shell pickle stands. To own four pieces of Bonnin and Morris porcelain as a private collector is a remarkable achievement.  Such holdings are testament to George and Linda's dedication as collectors. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to have been close to them both.

Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen
Anthony W. and Lulu C. Wang
Curator of American Decorative Arts, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Thank you for signing up.

by Émile Jacques Ruhlmann (1879-1933), 1926. Macassar ebony, amaranth, and ivory. Metropolitan Museum of Art. By Cynthia Drayton

» View All