New Acquisitions at the VMFA
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One of the museum’s recent acquisitions: Marsden Hartley (American, 1877–1943), Franconia Notch (Mt. Lafayette, Franconia Notch, N.H.), 1930, oil on canvas, 30 x 36 inches, Henry Heydenryk period frame, J. Harwood and Louise B. Cochrane Fund for American Art.
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) has a collection of art that spans the globe and more than 5,000 years. The museum’s permanent collection encompasses more than 24,000 works of art and it continues to add to this collection each year. This year’s additions include a variety of pieces that mirror the diversity of its collection. All works of art are purchased with private funds from dedicated endowments and, after the VMFA Board of Trustees approves proposed acquisitions on a quarterly basis, the art becomes the property of the Commonwealth of Virginia to protect, preserve, and interpret.
Some of this season’s interesting acquisitions include:
Susanna Gilliam Payne (American, 1813—unknown), Needlework Sampler, dated “July 9, 1829, Virginia,” wool on linen, 17 ½ x 22 inches, Gabe W. Burton Fund. Susanna Payne’s sampler belongs to large body of needlework produced by girls for purposes of education, refinement, and artistic display. Popular in America, Britain, and elsewhere beginning in the late 18th century, the fashion reached its peak in the first quarter of the 19th century, but continued to influence needlework in the antebellum period, particularly in rural regions. Virginia resident Susanna Payne was 16 years old when she completed this piece. The Payne sampler holds particular significance for VMFA, incorporating a genealogical footprint that links it to an important Virginia portrait by the so-called “Payne Limner” as well as to the museum’s founder, John Barton Payne. The sampler adds depth to discussions of gendered education and the domestic arts in early America in general, and the material culture of Virginia’s Payne family in particular.
Siemon Allen (South African, born 1970), Zonophone, 2010, digital print with Epson Ultrachrome HDR ink on Hahneumuhle Museum Etching Fine Art Paper mounted on Sintra, 78 x 78 inches, Number 2 from an edition of 2, with 1 artist’s proof, Gift of Pamela K. and William A. Royall Jr. Simeon Allen’s Zonophone is a digital print made from a record in his extensive audio collection of South African jazz and punk music, plays, political speeches, and sports commentary. The collection is part of Allen’s larger project of archiving mass-produced printed material relating to the history of South Africa and, thus, to questions of personal and national identity. Allen scanned the record at high resolution and printed it in rich matte tones on velvety archival paper, creating a strong tactile quality. At 6 feet square, it offers remarkable detail, capturing each vinyl groove and the accumulated wear and tear to the label. Zonophone reproduces the earliest record in Allen’s collection, and possibly the earliest mention of South Africa in an audio recording. The tune is ―Marching on Pretoria (Patriotic Song), ‖ dating from the second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). The song expresses a British patriotic position on the war, but shares similarities with a famous Afrikaans song from the same time called “Marching to Pretoria.” Both are based on the American Civil War song “Marching through Georgia” by Henry Clay Work. The acquisition of Zonophone enhances VMFA’s representation of global 21st-century art. It also adds a work to the collection by an artist currently based in Richmond (Allen teaches in the Department of Sculpture + Extended Media at Virginia Commonwealth University).
The VMFA, also, received a variety of paintings as gifts. Some of the selected gifts include from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, Upperville, Virginia:
- Eugène Boudin (French, 1824–1898): Beach Scene at Deauville, 1865, oil on canvas, 16. x 25. inches; Fisherwomen, black chalk and watercolor, 5. x 8⅝ inches; Fisherwomen, black chalk and watercolor, 5. x 8⅝ inches
- Raoul Dufy (French, 1877–1953), Les Régates á Deauville, 1938, oil on canvas, 23⅞ x 28. inches
- Berthe Morisot (French, 1841–1895), The Harbor at Cherbourg, (Le Port de Lorient), 1871, pencil and watercolor, 6 ⅜ x 8 inches
- Albert Marquet (French, 1875–1947): Voilier (with sails lowered), black ink, 8 x 7⅛ inches; Voilier (with sails raised), black ink, 8 x 7. inches
This exquisite group of paintings and drawings represents important Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists. The four artists represented are both favorites of the collectors as well as pivotal figures in the development of 19th-and early 20th-century art in France. These most recent gifts of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon continue to transform the museum into a major center for the display and study of French art as well as a treasured public resource for all to enjoy.
The Museum continues to diversify its collection as evident by their photo collection with the acquisition of 25 photographs by 12 different artists, including Fred Baker, Mikki Ferrill, Judith Fox, György Kepes, Gita Lenz, Phil Nesmith, Cindy Sherman, Beuford Smith, Deborah Turbeville, Shawn Walker, Minor White, and Willie Anne Wright. Of these works, 13 were gifts and 12 were purchases. The majority introduces new artists to the collection and greatly expands VMFA’s representation of women and African American photographers.
Jon Henry comes from the small town of Washington, Virginia. Xe finished xes degree at the University of Richmond and was named GayRVA.com's Out.Spoken. Richmonder of the Year for 2011. When not in class, xe is either in the studio or rabble rousing with other queer activists. Follow xem on Twitter.
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