Sendak's treasures

A scene from Lothar Meggendorfer’s "Internationaler Circus."
Four selections from the famed author's collection recently acquired by the Rosenbach.

Maurice Sendak, who died in 2012, left the bulk of his personal library of rare books to the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia. The author-illustrator’s estate contested the will, and the case was recently settled. The Sendak estate ended up retaining 252 of the books – including two worth millions. But the Rosenbach received 643 books, rounding out existing collections and creating new strengths for Philadelphia’s small museum and library a few blocks from Rittenhouse Square. Rosenbach director Derick Dreher explains why some of the new acquisitions were so important to Sendak.

Lothar Meggendorfer

“Children are a discriminating and often reluctant audience; it is no mean feat, catching their attention. Meggendorfer enlarged the child’s visual pleasure in a way that probably will never be duplicated.”
- Maurice Sendak

Beatrix Potter

“Beatrix Potter…was unmitigatingly honest about [animals], sometimes harsh, always adoring, but without any taint of sentimentality.”
- Maurice Sendak

William Blake

Blake was a flaming maniac, and that’s the best compliment. He was fearless, totally fearless. His passion for the mystery of the universe – he made up a universe because he rejected what everyone else believes. He created a world that he could believe in, and you bought it or you didn’t.”
- Maurice Sendak

Herman Melville

“I think Pierre is as great as Moby Dick. And maybe greater for having searched the underworld of that book, and all I did was take a shot at searching, take a shot at what it was all about. There were complaints about that book – like, ‘these pictures are odd. What do they have to do with the scene?’ Well, sometimes they don’t have to do with the scene. They have to do with how I feel about the scene.”
- Maurice Sendak, on his illustrations for Melville’s Pierre