Dorrance Special Exhibition Galleries, first floor
The history of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, like that of most public art museums in this country, is one of civic spirit and private philanthropy. The majority of the works of art in the Museum's collection were gifts from generous and public-minded individuals. This tradition is equally strong today. Thus, it is only fitting to celebrate the Museum's 125th anniversary with an exhibition devoted to a remarkable group of masterpieces acquired over the past few years. In addition to gifts of works of art, the roster of Anniversary acquisitions encompasses a number of exciting purchases, made possible by generous contributions of funds raised for the specific purpose of enhancing the Museum's collections.
Like the Museum's collection as a whole, the new gifts span centuries and continents, and include diverse artistic mediums. Unique objects include masterpieces of painting by Claude Monet, Andrew Wyeth and Jasper Johns, a dazzling Japanese scroll by Hon'ami Koetsu, an iridescent glass column by Louis Comfort Tiffany, a royal stool from Côte d'Ivoire, an upholstered Philadelphia easy chair widely touted as one of the masterpieces of 18th-century cabinetry, and a brilliant marble bust of Benjamin Franklin, the finest contemporary portrait of this illustrious Philadelphian by the 18th century's greatest portrait sculptor, Jean-Antoine Houdon. Several important works by African American artists such as Joshua Johnson, Bob Thompson, Alma Thomas, William H. Johnson, and Elizabeth Catlett are also featured. Photography, Indian miniatures, drawings, prints, decorative arts, contemporary art and elegant clothing by contemporary designers all reflect the rich diversity indicative of the Museum's vitality.
Alice Beamesderfer • Associate Director for Collections and Project Support
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Gifts in Honor of the Museum's 125th Anniversary was made possible by Wilmington Trust and The Women's Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Additional support was provided by Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads, LLP, the Robert Montgomery Scott Endowment for Exhibitions, and The Pew Charitable Trusts, with a donation from Sotheby's. Generous contributions were given by Gisela and Dennis Alter, Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, Maxine and Howard H. Lewis, Harvey S. Shipley Miller, and Martha J. McGeary Snider.