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Sargent, Chase, Cassatt: Master Paintings from a Private Collection

July 1 - September 18, 2006

 

(above: William Merritt Chase, American, 1849-1916, At Play, about 1895, Oil on canvas, Overall: 183.2 x 91.8 cm (72 1/8 x 36 1/8 inches). Lender Accessory (Frame): 208.3 x 115.6 cm (82 x 45 1/2 inches). Private Collection. Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

 

Sargent, Chase, Cassatt: Master Paintings from a Private Collection, comprising 22 paintings and works on paper, will be on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) starting July 1, 2006. As a complement to the sweeping exhibition Americans in Paris, 1860-1900, this superb selection of paintings illuminates the work of pivotal American artists of the late 19th century -- specifically Sargent, Chase, and Cassatt -- who also figure prominently in Americans in Paris. These works will remain on view in the Susan Morse Hilles Gallery through September 18, 2006.

"We are very fortunate to have the superb paintings from this private collection on view to the public and are extremely grateful to the collectors for their generosity in lending them to the Museum," said Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director of the MFA. "This generous loan provides Museum visitors with a special opportunity to further examine exceptional art from the latter half of the 19th-century and serves as an excellent complement to Americans in Paris."

Reflecting the collectors' taste, several themes emerge in Sargent, Chase, Cassatt. Sargent's Study for Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose (1885-6) and Thomas Wilmer Dewing's Lady in Lavender (c. 1919-23), the first painting the couple purchased, reveal their shared interest in ethereal and enigmatic images. Portraits of intelligent and engaged women also figure prominently, and many of the artists -- Sargent, Chase, Dewing, Hassam, Prendergast, and Paxton -- have close ties to Boston. John Singer Sargent's masterpiece, The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit (1882), on view in the Americans in Paris exhibition, deeply touched one of the collectors when she was a college student and had her first opportunities to experience works of art at the MFA, where she frequently visited the galleries displaying paintings by Sargent and the French Impressionists.

Rich in paintings by Sargent, this private collection represents the formative stages of his career in Broadway, England, when his style was greatly inspired by the French Impressionists. This influence is seen in a charming and spontaneous portrait of his muse, Mrs. Frank (Lily) Millet, as well as the delicate study of one of the daughters who belonged to the lively circle of artists and writers spending their holidays there. In Spain, we discover Sargent's admiration for Francisco Goya in his Angels in a Transept (1879), a study after Goya's ceiling frescoes in the Church of San Antonio de la Florida, and in Italy, his fascination with rendering the reflections of water and light in the majestic façade of the church of Sta. Stae in Venice or the exquisite image of his favorite model playing the tambourine, silhouetted against the sky in Capri.

William Merritt Chase is represented by two major, full-length portraits, At Play (c. 1895), a portrait of the artist's daughters, and Portrait of Miss L. (Portrait of Angelica Hamilton Lawrence) (c. 1891-92), which was first exhibited at the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. His delightful pastel portrait of his daughter dressed in a kimono, My Baby Cosy (c. 1888), is among several fine works on paper included in Sargent, Chase, Cassatt.

Chase's bravura handling of paint is evident in the two landscapes on view: Beach Scene-Morning at Canoe Place (c. 1896-97), inspired by Chase's visits to Shinnecock, Long Island, where he spent the summer and offered classes in plein-air painting; and At the Shore (c. 1882-86), a scene of the seaside entertainments offered at Coney Island, which anticipates the imagery of the Ash Can artists around 1900. The artist's Interior (1896), along with Georgia O'Keeffe's brilliant pastel, Pink Camellia (1935), are recent additions to this collection.

"We are very pleased to offer MFA visitors an extraordinary opportunity to view a private collection of the highest quality representing some of the finest artists of the 19th and 20th centuries" said Elliot Bostwick Davis, John Moors Cabot Chair of Art of the Americas at the MFA, and curator of Sargent, Chase, Cassatt. "The collectors are delighted to share their passion for American art with the institution that first inspired their efforts."

Sargent, Chase, Cassatt has been made possible with the generous assistance of Robert Simon of Robert Simon Fine Art.

 

Wall text for the exhibition

John Singer Sargent's masterpiece, The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit-now on view upstairs in the exhibition Americans in Paris-deeply touched a young college student, who later, with her husband, acquired the collection displayed here through September. Frequent visits to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, incited the student's passion for paintings by Sargent and the French Impressionists, while, for the first time, she had the opportunity to be exposed to art and to study art history. Later, after working and raising their children together, the couple began acquiring paintings and works on paper. Along the way, they have discovered how closely attuned they are in selecting works of art for their collection, with an aesthetic that is completely mutual. They are delighted to share their collection with visitors to the MFA, and by so doing, to give back to the Museum that first inspired their efforts.

Reflecting the couples' personalities, several themes emerge. Sargent's Study for Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose and Thomas Wilmer Dewing's Lady in Lavender, the first painting the couple purchased, reveal their interest in ethereal and enigmatic compositions. Portraits of intelligent and engaged women figure prominently, and many of the artists have close ties to Boston. Both collectors are especially drawn to paintings and works on paper by one of their favorite artists, William Merritt Chase, who is represented here by two spectacular, full-length portraits. Chase's Interior is one of their most recent acquisitions, along with Georgia O'Keeffe's brilliant pastel, Pink Camelia.


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