Paintings from Scaife bequest on view at BRM

A superb selection of paintings given by Richard M. Scaife will go on view at the Brandywine River Museum of Art this spring. These works add significant depth to the museum’s holdings of American landscape painting and introduce the Hudson River School and American impressionist traditions. Many of the 25 paintings in the exhibition are by renowned artists that are new to the collection, such as John Frederick Kensett, Albert Bierstadt, Martin Johnson Heade, Alfred Bricher and William Merritt Chase.

In 2014, Richard M. Scaife — news publisher, art collector, philanthropist and long-time trustee of the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art — left his extensive art collection to the Brandywine and to the Westmoreland Museum of Art in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, to be divided evenly. Scaife also bequeathed Penguin Court, his estate in western Pennsylvania, to the Brandywine, adding over 1,000 acres to its protected lands—the single largest land acquisition in the organization’s history.

Scaife’s was passionately interested in the varied traditions of American landscape painting, including California plein-air artists. His collection featured paintings of sunlit marine scenes, bold mountain scenery and bucolic farmlands by 19th and 20th century painters, as well as contemporary artists, many of whom lived and worked in those regions. Scaife’s keen eye for collecting important Hudson River School painters of the mid-nineteenth century offers works that demonstrate these artists’ gifts for creating luminous effects of light and expressing dramatic moods of nature. Examples include John Frederick Kensett’s sparkling evening view in Hudson River View from Dobb’s Ferry, Albert Bierstadt’s calm and sunny Coast of California, the glowing towering thunderclouds of Paul Weber’s Sunset in the Alleghenies, the tranquil twilight in New Jersey Salt Marsh by Martin Johnson Heade, and two glimmering shore scenes by Alfred Bricher. These new additions make a timely and significant connection to the current special exhibition, The Poetry of Nature: A Golden Age of Landscape Painting, a premier selection of Hudson River School paintings on loan from the New-York Historical Society from March 19 to June 12, 2016.

The Scaife bequest also brings to the collection marvelous examples of American impression by artists of the late-19th to mid-20th centuries, whose paintings are inflected with evidence of their study in Europe. The resulting work evidences an exciting and innovative approach to American landscape painting with vivid color and energetic brushwork—both hallmarks of the French impressionist style. This exhibition includes paintings by William Merritt Chase, Theodore Robinson, and Edward Lawson—all leaders of American impressionism—as well as work by Edward Redfield and Julian Alden Weir. A superb painting, The Cherry Tree by William Chadwick, embodies the impressionist palette, expressive brushstrokes and desire to capture the ephemeral moment in a composition bursting with springtime blossoms. Two extraordinary paintings—Blue Iris with Apple Tree and Fountain in Our Garden at Nikko—by John La Farge reveal his absorption of the decorative aesthetic inspired by both French and Japanese art.

These works and more in New Terrains: American Landscape Paintings from the Richard M. Scaife Bequest, attest to Richard Scaife’s extraordinary vision and generosity. His gift marks a milestone in the growth of the museum and allows it to draw fascinating connections between artists of the Brandywine region and a wider spectrum of American art.



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