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Mongan, Elizabeth

    Full Name: Mongan, Elizabeth

    Gender: female

    Date Born: 1910

    Date Died: 2002

    Place Born: Somerville, Middlesex, MA, USA

    Place Died: Rockport, Knox, MA, USA

    Home Country/ies: United States

    Subject Area(s): prints (visual works)

    Career(s): curators


    Print authority and curator; assembled major print collection now at National Gallery of Art. Mongan’s father was a prosperous Somerville, MA physician, Charles Mongan. Like her older sister, Agnes Mongan, who also became an art historian, she attended Bryn Mawr College. Between 1937 and 1963, Mongan worked for for Lessing J. Rosenwald, heir to the Sears, Roebuck fortune, as curator for his print collection. Mongan steered Rosenwald into purchasing prints from the modern era, including color examples from 19th- and 20th-century France as well as German Expressionism. Mongan’s exhibitions catalogs, including the groundbreaking The First Century of Printmaking, 1400 to 1500 (1941) at the Art Institute of Chicago remain important texts on the history of graphic art. Rosenwald’s collection moved to the National Gallery of Art in Washington in 1943, and Mongan moved with the collection as curator. The Rosenwald Collection, now over 22,000 prints and is one of largest graphics collection in the world. She wrote significant catalogs on Klee, Fragonard, Morisot, and Daumier. She retired from the National Gallery in 1963. In her retirement, she taught art history at Smith College from 1969 to 1975. In 1986, Harvard benefactor Melvin Sieden established the I Tatti Mongan Prize, in honor of Agnes and Elizabeth Mongan for “a scholar of Italian Renaissance art, French art, drawings, and connoisseurship.” In 1988 she wrote the catalogue raisonné of Gauguin prints.

    Selected Bibliography

    and Wolf, Edwin. The First Printers and their Books: a Catalogue of an Exhibition Commemorating the Five HundredthAnniversary of the Invention of Printing. Philadelphia: The Free Library of Philadelphia, 1940; and Hofer, Philip, and Seznec, Jean. Fragonard Drawings for Ariosto. New York: Pantheon Books, 1945; and Joachim, Harold, and Kornfeld, Eberhard W. Paul Gauguin: Catalogue raisonné of his Prints. Bern: Galerie Kornfeld, 1988; Selections from the Rosenwald Collection, National Gallery of Art. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1943; and Schniewind, Carl O. The First Century of Printmaking, 1400-1500. Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago and R.R. Donnelly & Sons Company, 1941; Rosenwald Collection: an Exhibition of Recent Acquisitions. Washington, DC: The Gallery, 1950; Berthe Morisot: Drawings, Pastels, Watercolors, Paintings. New York: Tudor Pub. Co. [Charles E. Slatkin Galleries in collaboration with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston exhibition], 1960.


    “Former curator Elizabeth Mongan Dies.” Portsmouth Herald (online) Saturday, June 15, 2002; The I Tatti Mongan Prize (Villa I Tatti website)


    "Mongan, Elizabeth." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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