A Selection from The MET’s Public Domain Collection, Now Free from All Restrictions

Ever since The Public Domain Review began we’ve long harboured fantasies about the Metropolitan Museum joining the growing ranks of those institutions (The Getty, New York Public Library, and Rijksmuseum, among others) who have opened up their digital copies of public domain works, making them free from all restrictions on use. Now, after a statement made last week, The MET have done just that — making all digital copies of their incredible public domain collection available under a CC0 license and in high resolution. While included in the vast lot of more than 200,000 images is a wonderful selection of the well known — Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Monet, etc. — we present here our highlights from the perhaps lesser known corners (though we couldn’t resist sneaking in a Paul Klee). This is the product of a casual morning’s browse in which we could only get through the first 6,000 — that’s not even 3% — so we highly encourage you to jump in yourselves and make use of their slick and very comprehensive filtering system. And if that wasn’t enough, many of the pieces are accompanied by curatorial commentary offering the stories behind the works. Treasures await!

japan Shibata Zeshin
No Shadow in Any Nook or Corner (Kuma naki kage) by Shibata Zeshin, 1867 — Source.

xray fish
Zwei Goldfische und ein Seefisch (Christiceps argentatus), by Josef Maria Eder and Eduard Valenta, 1896 — Source.

arabic signature
Tughra (Official Signature) of Sultan Süleiman the Magnificent (r. 1520–66) — Source.

horse grid
Photograph of a horse by Ottomar Anschütz, 1884. Previously in the collection of the Catalan muralist Josep Maria Sert, who presumably added the grid, indicating that he may have used it as a reference for his artwork — Source.

klee may
May Picture, by Paul Klee, 1925 — Source.

A Sphere, Projecting Against a Plane by James Gillray, 1792
A Sphere, Projecting Against a Plane by James Gillray, 1792 — Source.

lewitsky running
Runner in the City, by El Lissitzky, ca. 1926 — Source.

early photo of lightning Charles Moussette
Spiral of Lightning in a Thunderstorm, photograph by Charles Moussette, 1886 — Source.

The Corpse of Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico, photograph by François Aubert, 1867 — Source.

japan fire woman
‘Insurance girl’ (hoken musume), illustration from Bugei Kurabu (Literary Club), Tomioka Eisen, Meiji period (1868–1912) — Source.

dancing white
Loie Fuller Dancing, photograph by Samuel Joshua Beckett, ca. 1900 — Source.

Rébus on the subject of fortune, a riddle depicted on drapery surrounded by a frame, an oval composition, by Stefano della Bella, ca. 1637–42 — Source.

posada birth animal
A woman who gave birth to three children and four animals, by José Guadalupe Posada , ca. 1900–1910 — Source.

A monkey holding a bound putto
A monkey holding a bound putto standing on a garland in front of which are two winged putti, from a series of tapestries made for Leo X, by Master of the Die, mid-16th century — Source.

A Paradice [sic] for Fools–A Nocturnal Trip–or–The Disciple of Johanna benighted–vided Scourge No. XXXVI, page 510, by Charles Williams, 1814 — Source.

matthew darly coiffeur
The Flower Garden, by Matthew Darly, 1777 — Source.

plan star
Octagonal Room with Sectional Views, Anonymous, 19th century — Source.

room painting
Drawing of an Interior: Cabinet du Salon, Anonymous, 1855 — Source.

chinese room
Hall of Quiet Study, Anonymous, Chinese, Canton, 19th century — Source.

Photograph (date unknown) of 17th-century balusters — Source.

japan stillfried
Two Chinese Men in Matching Traditional Dress, by Raimund von Stillfried, 1870s — Source.

 Habit de Mallettier Coffrettier
Habit de Mallettier Coffrettier, Anonymous, After Nicolas de Larmessin II, ca. 1690 — Source.

Otters Swimming, Seki Shūkō, ca. 1890–92 — Source.

A Dragonfly, by Nicolaas Struyk, early 18th–mid 18th century — Source.

talbot leaf
Leaf, by William Henry Fox Talbot, ca. 1839 — Source.