Not long ago I received an inquiry asking about postcard-size reproductions of artworks. The ones I had been familiar with (University Prints) seem to have disappeared, and a Google search did not turn up anything comparable. Today as I was sorting through accumulated piles of paperwork of all sorts, I found in the midst of it an envelope with samples of The Masterpiece Cards.
This is a set of 250 4” x 6” cards with reproductions of artworks from the Renaissance through modern art. Actual print area of masterpieces is smaller than the card, but many almost almost fill it with a 3 3/4” x5 3/8” reproduction. On the reverse of each card are the artist, artist’s life span, title, media used, time period when this artwork was completed, size, museum where it is located, and the city of that museum. At the top of the card is a color band identifying the city where the painting is located. Beneath the data is background information on the artist and the artwork that has been culled from one or two art historians.
Susan Benford created these cards by consulting 25 art history books used in high school and college courses along with some of the best art history books for adults. She compiled data on artworks from these books then selected those most frequently referenced for inclusion in The Masterpiece Cards set. Unfortunately, a few of the top masterpieces are missing because she was unable to obtain image and reproduction rights. Van Gogh’s The Starry Night and four others are listed as “qualified” but missing.
On Benford’s website is a free downloadable Excel or PDF ebook with a listing of the title , painter, medium, year created, art museum, and city where the museum is located as well as web links for more information on the artwork or the artist. The Excel version can be sorted. This ebook is also handy for finding paintings for a particular time period or by a particular painter as well as for planning a trip to an art museum. This ebook is an amazing resource just by itself!
Benford’s website has many other helpful pages and links including a page with ideas for using The Masterpiece Cards with young children, links to art history blogs, and links to art history PowerPoints.