Newport Art Museum

Newport, RI



The Morris Legacy: Profile of a Newport Collection

June 29 - September 9, 2001


Many Newporters remember two sisters, Alletta Nathalie Lorillard Morris McBean (1912-1986) and Frances Elizabeth Bailey Morris Smith (1915-1994), who grew up in New York and Newport. They are two of a long line of Morris family members who have held positions of social and political prominence in America and Newport since the 1700s. Both women loved Newport and contributed in countless ways to the city's historic and cultural preservation They gave special attention to their family treasures, allowing scholarly access to the important furniture, antiques and paintings that had been owned by various ancestors. The collections that grew up around these two exceptional women are the focus of this summer's exhibition in the Cushing Galleries. (left: Mrs. Lewis Gouverneur Morris and her Children Fordham and Francis, 1849, by Daniel Huntington, 1816-1906, oil on canvas, Bequest of Alletta Morris McBean, Chepstow. Photo by David Bohl, courtesy of the Preservation Society of Newport County, Newport [RI] Art Museum)

"The Morris Legacy" showcases Hudson River School paintings by artists such as Thomas Doughty, George Harvey and Albert Bierstadt, as well as local marine scenes by William Trost Richards. The exhibition reunites three Fitz Hugh Lane marine paintings, one now in the National Gallery, one in Chepstow at the Preservation Society of Newport County, and one in the Newport Art Museum -- the gift of Elizabeth Morris Smith. Furniture, including a Newport Queen Anne tea table once owned by Martha Washington, and chairs that belonged to Benjamin Franklin and William Penn, are also highlights. A wealth of portraits, decorative arts, costumes and family memorabilia, much of it borrowed from Chepstow, the home of Alletta Morris McBean, rounds out the exhibition.

On this ten year anniversary of the renovated Cushing Galleries it is particularly appropriate that the Newport Art Museum originate this tribute to Alletta Morris McBean and Elizabeth Morris Smith. The Nathalie Bailey Morris Gallery was named for their mother in recognition of the support provided by the McBean Charitable Trust in the capital campaign for the building. And it was at that time in 1991 that Mrs. Smith, then a Museum trustee, made the gift of the Fitz Hugh Lane painting, which significantly contributed to the importance of the permanent collection.

In presenting this exhibition, the Museum is privileged to have benefited from the expertise of Paul Miller, curator at the Preservation Society, whose knowledge of the Morris collections is unsurpassed.

Read more about the Newport Art Museum in Resource Library Magazine

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 6/3/11

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