The Bruce Museum will receive the promised gift of a major collection of European and American art
The identities of the collectors of this transformative gift of 70 works—which includes Edward Hopper’s seminal final painting Two comedians (1966)—have been guessed at, but not revealed, according to ART news.
The Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut, announced the promised donation of an important collection of European and American art – ranging from French and American Impressionism to works by Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, Alberto Giacometti, Henry Moore, Andrew Wyeth and others – which come from a bequest from an unnamed couple in Greenwich. The private collection of 70 works, including paintings, sculptures, watercolors, drawings, prints and photographs, will be the largest art gift in the Bruce Museum’s 112-year history.
“This gift is unprecedented in its scale and quality, and these works will further define The New Bruce as a museum that explores the global histories of modern and contemporary art,” said Robert Wolterstorff, Executive Director and CEO of The Bruce. Museum, Susan E. Lynch. “We are deeply grateful to the donors of these magnificent works, who have actively supported the Greenwich community for decades and can now be assured that their generosity will inspire and educate generations to come.”
Coming at a transformative time for the Bruce Museum, the announcement of the promised collection accompanies a major leadership grant donors have given to the New Bruce Building Campaign. The $60 million renovation and expansion project will double the size of the existing building and create modern, spacious new galleries for exhibitions and installations, as well as state-of-the-art spaces for education and community events.
The New Bruce is scheduled to open in March 2023, with the addition of over 12,000 square feet of gallery space in the William L. Richter Art Wing, including a 4,500 square foot gallery for temporary exhibitions and five new galleries for the growing permanent art collection. The museum’s curator of art, Margarita Karasoulas, who joined the Bruce in November after serving as assistant curator of American art at the Brooklyn Museum, will curate an installation of selected works loaned from the donation to celebrate the grand opening of the New Bruce. . At the time the donation is made, the works will be exhibited in a dedicated gallery in the Museum’s Richter Art Wing.
Viewed as a whole, the collection focuses primarily on the European and American figurative tradition from the 1870s to the 1990s, beginning with the watercolors of Winslow Homer. boy on the dock (1873) and Anglers Winding Tackle (1881), the latter of his important Cullercoats series, and ending with the watercolor by Andrew Wyeth Cape May (1992). Andrew Wyeth is also represented by two tempera paintings—Sheep’s skin (1973), from his famous Helga series, and the huntress (1978), a bright interior depicting another model, Siri Erickson. These are complemented by the artist’s outstanding watercolors and graphite drawings.
Among the works in the collection are singular masterpieces. by Edward Hopper Two comedians (1966), the artist’s last work, depicts the painter and his wife Josephine disguised as clowns, or commedia dell’arte characters, on stage in a dark setting. A second oil Hopper, Cavalier Path (1939) shows a trio of horsemen in Central Park. Another highlight of the collection is Mary Cassatt’s two little sisters (c. 1901-02), which is complemented by a group of very important color etchings by Cassatt with aquatint, which stand as icons of graphic art, groundbreaking works that conveyed the aesthetics of the Japanese color prints in the Impressionist idiom.
Included are works by French Impressionist master Camille Pissarro, including Gisors Market, Grande-Rue (The Gisors Market, on the Grande-Rue, 1885) and Haymaking in Eragny (Haymaking in Éragny, 1891), both created in the years when Pissarro was most influenced by the pointillist technique of his friend Georges Seurat.
The collection is particularly rich in sculpture, notably that of Alberto Giacometti Woman sitting (Woman sitting, 1956); several sculptures on various supports by Elie Nadelman, including circus performer in painted wood (circa 1919); and bronzes by American sculptor Harriet Frishmuth, including The star (1918). Several bronzes by Henry Moore, spanning a period of more than 30 years, include the early family group (1946). Together, they will place the Bruce Museum at the forefront of public collections in the United States of Moore’s work.
Other highlights of the promised gift include oils and watercolors by Childe Hassam, including Rainy day on the avenue (1893) and The white dory (1895); The superb oil of John Singer Sargent peach girl (1913); a delicious Joan Miró oil, Women and birds in the night (Women and bird in the night, 1946); an extremely rare watercolor from Pablo Picasso’s blue period, The guitarist (Guitarist, 1903); and a bold abstract watercolor by Wassily Kandinsky, Rose rot (Red rose1927).
“It’s an extraordinarily rich collection that will transform the Bruce Museum, giving us a deep interest in European and American impressionism, modernism and realism,” Wolterstorff said. “This visionary gift will make The Bruce a place to be discovered again and again. Works like these will become old friends that you seek out on every visit. And they will become essential to our education and our public programs. Great works of art like these will change your life, the life of your children, the life of this community.