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Acquisitions of the month: April 2017

9 May 2017

National Portrait Gallery, London
The last portrait of the Duke of Wellington, and Tracey Emin’s ‘death mask’

The gallery announced two significant acquisitions in April. The final, unfinished portrait of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, was secured through a £1.3m public appeal and a donation from the National Heritage Memorial Fund. Shortly afterwards, the museum confirmed the purchase of Tracey Emin’s ‘death mask’ (2002), supported by White Cube gallery and the artist with a contribution from the Art Fund.

Tracey Emin photographed with her Death Mask (2002) at the National Portrait Gallery in 2017. © Tracey Emin/National Portrait Gallery, London; Photo: © Jorge Herrera

Tracey Emin photographed with the Death Mask (2002) at the National Portrait Gallery in 2017. © Tracey Emin/National Portrait Gallery, London; Photo: © Jorge Herrera

Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo
Marisol estate

Marisol, the Venezuelan-American artist known for her large-scale assemblages fusing Pop and folk art, passed away in 2016. She left around 100 sculptures, more than 150 works on paper, thousands of photographs and slides, as well as a vast selection of tools and her New York home and studio to the gallery. This is the largest gift in the Albright-Knox gallery’s history.

My Father (1977), Marisol (María Sol Escobar). © Estate of Marisol / Licensed by VAGA, New York. Image copyright © Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis. Photograph by Julio Greenblatt

My Father (1977), Marisol (María Sol Escobar). © Estate of Marisol / Licensed by VAGA, New York. Image copyright © Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis. Photograph by Julio Greenblatt

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York
James Baldwin Archive

The Harlem branch of the New York Public Library has acquired the personal archive of writer and social critic, James Baldwin. The collection spans nearly the entirety of the writer’s career and includes handwritten letters, essays, and short stories – some which have never been published. The archive makes the Schomburg Center one of the foremost institutions for research into Baldwin’s intellectual and cultural life.

The Baldwin display at the Schomburg Center. Courtesy of Jonathan Blanc/Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library

The Baldwin display at the Schomburg Center. Courtesy of Jonathan Blanc/Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library

Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth
Head (c. 1913), Amedeo Modigliani

Less than 30 sculptures by Modigliani are known to survive, of which this is considered one of his best. In acquiring it, the Kimbell becomes the first museum in the western states to own one. The sculpture fills two gaps in the collection, which until now has lacked examples of modernist sculpture and of Modigliani’s work in any medium. The piece, which was donated by Gwendolyn Weiner in honour of her parents Ted and Lucile Weiner, will be displayed alongside the museum’s impressive collection of modern painting, which includes work by Picasso and Mondrian.

Head (c. 1913), Amedeo Modigliani. Courtesy of Kimbell Art Museum

Head (c. 1913), Amedeo Modigliani. Courtesy of Kimbell Art Museum

High Museum of Art, Atlanta
54 works from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation

This is one of the most significant additions ever made to the museum’s major collection of folk and self-taught art. The combined gift and purchase includes paintings, sculptures, and works on paper by 33 contemporary African-American artists, including 13 works by Thornton Dial and 11 quilts produced by the women of Gee’s Bend in Alabama. The acquisition is part of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation’s initiative to strengthen the representation of African-American artists in leading US museums.

Birmingham News (1997), Thornton Dial. © 1997 Estate of Thornton Dial / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio

Birmingham News (1997), Thornton Dial. © 1997 Estate of Thornton Dial / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio

Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Nine new acquisitions

At the 31st annual Collectors Committee fundraiser, LACMA announced its acquisition of nine new works including: the first Chinese spirit stone to enter the museum’s holdings; Sonia Delaunay’s abstract masterpiece La Prose du Transsibérien et de la Petite Jehanne de France (1913), and a suite of three artworks by Middle Eastern contemporary artists Shirin Neshat, Khosrow Hassanzadeh, and Yasmin Sinai.

La Prose du Transsibérien et de la Petite Jehanne de France (detail; 1913), Sonia Delaunay. Courtesy of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

La Prose du Transsibérien et de la Petite Jehanne de France (detail; 1913), Sonia Delaunay. Courtesy of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh
Allegro dining suite by Sir Basil Spence

This modernist dining suite, comprised of a table, sideboard and six chairs, was designed by the celebrated British architect Sir Basil Spence and manufactured in Glasgow by H. Morris and Company around 1949. The design drew on new techniques of laminating and shaping wood, developed during the war to produce helicopter blades. Only 10 editions of this suite were made given the high cost of production.

One of six chairs from the Allegro dining suite designed by Sir Basil Spencer in 1949. © National Museums Scotland

One of six chairs from the Allegro dining suite designed by Sir Basil Spence in 1949. © National Museums Scotland

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