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A Touch of Light: American Tonalist Masters - The Seymour R. Thaler and Mildred Thaler Cohen Collection

March 18 - July 31, 2000


The Thaler Cohen Collection of paintings is a group of 48 works of art from the 19th and early 20th century given to the Mattatuck Museum by Mildred Thaler Cohen of New York City. She and her first husband began the collection in the late '50s, at a time when American paintings were not recognized as important works of art. The paintings were collected with a passion and hung in the family's home. After her first husband's death, Mrs. Cohen moved into the city and opened an art gallery specializing in 19th century American painting (the Marbella Gallery), but the collection remained a private collection, domestic in scale. Hung in her home, it was a personal reflection of a passionate collector. (left: Guy Wiggens (1883-1962),The Blizzard at the Library, 1920, oil on board, 8 x 10 inches)

The Collection includes works by painters now recognized as major American masters, including John Singer Sargent, Ralph Albert Blakelock, George Inness, Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Worthington Whittredge, J. Alden Weir, Ehilu Vedder, Everett Shinn, Alfred Thompson Bricher, Samuel Colman, Jasper F. Cropsey, Ernest Lawson, William Morris Hunt, Eugene Higgins, Thomas Hill, Edward Gay, J. Francis Murphy, Thomas Nast, Robert Salmon, Alexander Wyant, Bruce Crane and Edward Henry Potthast. (left: Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902), Western Lake, n.d., oil on board, 10 x 14 inches)

The collection contributes to the Mattatuck Museum collections by strengthening its holdings in landscape painting (with acknowledge leaders in landscape: Bierstadt, Inness, Whittredge, Hunt and Weir); and adds to the collections in subjects and styles not previously well represented in the collections: still life (Emil Carlsen), allegorical figure paintings (Ehilu Vedder, Arthur Bowen Davies), and scenes of urban life (Guy Carlton Wiggins, Everett Shinn and Edward Henry Potthast). The collection also includes influential painters, some forgotten to modern collectors, including Thomas Couture (who taught many American painters in their student days in Paris in the 19th century), Henri Fantin-Latour (the French artist who defined 19th century still life), David Burliuk (an early modernist, and advocate of Russian theories of art) and Josephine Paddock (who exhibited in the pioneering Armory Show in New York in 1913, which introduced American artists and audiences to modern, abstract art). (left Samuel Colman (1832-1920), Sunset after Rain - a sketch from nature, n.d., oil on paper, 6 x 10 inches; right: Everett Shinn (1876-1953), Singer, n.d., pastel on paper, 17 x 12 inches)

The Mattatuck will exhibit the entire collection in a special exhibit on view through July, 2000 and will hang the paintings by Connecticut-based artists in its permanent galleries later in 2000. Other works in the collection will be hung in the Seymour R. Thaler and Mildred Thaler Cohen Study Center, a resource center on American painting that the museum will create over the next several years to provide students and visitors with access to information about American art and the role of Connecticut-based artists in the evolution of a national style. The collection will be known as the Seymour R. Thaler and Mildred Thaler Cohen Collection. (left: John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), Courtyard, n.d., oil on board, 13 x 8 1/2 inches; right: Edward Potthast (1852-1927), Bathers on a Beach, c. 1910, oil on board, 12 x 16 inches)

Mrs. Cohen was introduced to the Mattatuck Museum through the museum's recent exhibits exploring neglected 19th century landscape painters, including the Alexander Theobald Van Laer exhibit and publication that the museum organized last year. The donor was a lender to the exhibit of an accomplished, but forgotten, American tonalist, who had a summer home and studio in Litchfield at the turn of the century. Mrs. Cohen's son, Fred Thaler, is a painting dealer who lives in Kent, Connecticut.

All paintings illustrated in this article are from The Seymour R. Thaler and Mildred Thaler Cohen Collection, Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury, CT.

Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Mattatuck Museum in Resource Library Magazine

Please click on thumbnail images bordered by a red line to see enlargements.

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. 3/2/11

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