Landscape of American art at BRM

The new exhibit at the Brandywine River Museum of Art — American Beauty: Highlights from the Richard M. Scaife Bequest— features 58 paintings that had been in the collection of Richard Scaife. Scaife, who died in 2014, bequeathed his pieces to both the BRM and The Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Pittsburgh.

BRM curator Audrey Lewis said during a press preview that divvying up the collection between the two museums was akin to the NFL draft of college players. The museums took turns picking which they wanted for their home collection, with each one having a backup choice if the other museum chose one that it wanted.

Martin Johnson Heade, New Jersey Salt Marsh, ca. 1875 - 1885, oil on canvas, 17 × 36 1/4 in. Brandywine River Museum of Art. Richard M. Scaife Bequest, 2015

Lewis said the collection shows a wide range of painting styles based on Scaife’s tastes as a collector.

“It shows what a collector collects and has the visitor ask: Would you want to collect the same things?”

The pieces were all in homes so they’re smaller than what is usually seen in a museum setting. But they also show a variety of styles, Lewis said.

“It covers the whole span of American art from the mid 19th  century on,” said Lewis.

She explained that Scaife chose the individual pieces for his collection based on where he was living and how the art would complement each of his homes, be they on the east or west coast or anywhere in between. Scaife had homes in Pennsylvania, California and Massachusetts.

“In terms of regional focuses, this exhibition gives you a sense of New England painting, the Hudson River School of painting. Also, moving into the 20thcentury, the impressionist painting of California and New England.

The exhibit is the first chance for the general public to see what the museum considers “the finest paintings from the collection.”

Among the artists whose works are in the exhibit are William Holbrook Beard, Albert Bierstadt, Martin Johnson Heade, Jasper Cropsey and Guy Pene du Bois.

American Beauty: Highlights from the Richard M. Scaife Bequest runs through runs through May 27.


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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.



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