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Acquisitions of the month: August 2016

31 August 2016

Our round-up of the best works of art to enter public collections recently

Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts

The Worcester Art Museum has acquired The Pregnant Woman (1931) by the German artist Otto Dix and two paintings by the Belgian artist Philippe-Jacques Van Brée. Dix’s painting makes a significant addition to the museum’s 20th-century collection, while The Studio of the Flower Painter Van Daël at the Sorbonne (1816) by Van Brée, and a smaller replica made in the same year, are historically important for what they reveal about the role of women artists in the first half of the 19th century – the painting captures a studio scene in which all the artists are women. The museum hopes to set Van Brée’s against works by women artists already held in the collection.

Bavarian State Painting Collections and the State Graphics Collection, Munich

Fifty-eight works by artists including Eugène Delacroix, Joseph Beuys, Cy Twombly, George Baselitz and Piet Mondrian have entered the Bavarian State Painting Collections and the State Graphics Collection in Munich. The gift was made by the Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne, which had in turn received the works from the private collection of Christof and Ursula Engelhorn. The foundation has also facilitated the collection’s acquisition of Dan Flavin’s Untitled (to you, Heiner, with admiration and affection) (1973).

Tate Britain, London

Tate Britain has been allocated a full-length portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds of the 5th Earl of Carlisle (1769) through the Acceptance in Lieu Scheme. For the last 200 years, the portrait has hung in Castle Howard and it will remain on public display there before travelling across the country, including to Tate Britain. Reynolds made the painting at the height of his powers when he had just been elected the first President of the Royal Academy.

Portrait of Frederick Howard, 5th Earl of Carlisle (1748–1825)

Portrait of Frederick Howard, 5th Earl of Carlisle (1748–1825) (1769), Joshua Reynolds.

MOCA Jacksonville, Florida

Museum trustee Maria Cox has donated 50 works of art to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville. Throughout their marriage, she and her late husband, Donald, accumulated an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art, including works by Joan Mitchell, Philip Guston, Joel Shapiro, Frank Stella, Keith Haring, Malcolm Morley and Jasper Johns. Maria Cox’s gift will join a donation of 48 works made by Cox in 2004. Together the collection includes work by 60 artists previously unrepresented in the museum’s permanent collection. It is hoped that this acquisition will not only strengthen the MOCA’s collection but also boost its outreach and education efforts. Cox has also pledged to support research, conservation, access and the future growth of the collection by creating The Donald and Maria Cox Fund.

Corpse and Mirror

Corpse and Mirror (1976), Jasper Johns. © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Co-published by the artist and Simca studio.

Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

The Fitzwilliam Museum has successfully raised the £1.2 million needed to keep a pair of pietre dure Roman cabinets in the UK. Dating from around 1625, the cabinets are exceptional examples of 17th-century Italian furniture, and are among the most significant of their type left in the country. The cabinets had been in the private collection at Castle Howard, Yorkshire, but were sold last summer at Sotheby’s, London, to a foreign buyer for £1.2 million. The historic and cultural value of the cabinets persuaded culture minister Ed Vaizey to place a temporary export bar on the cabinets. The National Heritage Memorial Fund gave a grant of £700,000 in order to save them for the nation, while the Art Fund contributed £200,000. Additional support came from several benefactors, including the Pilgrim Trust.

Pietre dure cabinets

Pietre dure cabinets (c. 1625), probably to the designs of the influential Regency designer, Charles Heathcote Tatham.

The Broad, Los Angeles

The Broad Museum has made 29 new additions to the collection in its inaugural year, it announced late last month. In acquiring works by Cindy Sherman, John Baldessari, Sherrie Levine and Ericka Beckman, the museum has expanded its collection of the 1980s ‘Pictures Generation’ artists. Over a third of the new works are by Los Angeles artists, including Oscar Murillo, Tauba Auerbach and Jonas Wood. The purchase of five Cindy Sherman pieces brings The Broad’s holdings of her works to 129, making it the largest such group in the world.

Film Frame from ‘You The Better'

Film Frame from ‘You The Better’ (1983/2015), Ericka Beckman. © Ericka Beckman. Courtesy Mary Boone Gallery, New York

Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Two important and vastly different acquisitions were announced by the V&A this August. The first was a rare ceramic bowl by Hans Coper (1920–81), one of the most influential post-war artist-potters. Made in London in around 1955, the bowl reveals Coper’s interest in both modern painting and ancient art. A temporary export bar was placed in the bowl in 2015, and it was bought for the museum in memory of the journalist Annabel Freyberg through the support of her friends, with the remaining contributions coming from the V&A.

The V&A has also acquired the Tommy Cooper Collection, which documents the life and legacy of the beloved British comedian. It will join the museum’s other collections devoted to comedians including Ronnie Barker, Tony Hancock, Dame Edna Everage, and Morecambe and Wise. The acquisition comprises 116 boxes of archive material and 24 props and posters.

Tommy Cooper’s ‘gag file’

Tommy Cooper’s ‘gag file’. © The Tommy Cooper Estate

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The collector Barbara Levy Kipper has donated a rare Nepalese ritual crown to the Met. Dating from the late 13th or 14th century, such crowns are worn by Nepalese priests who perform Vajrayana Buddhist ceremonies. The crown will enhance the Met’s South Asian art collection and will be central to their Nepalese art holdings.

Vajracarya’s Ritual Crown

Vajracarya’s Ritual Crown (Early Malla period, 13th century), Nepal, Kathmandu Valley.

Royal Museums Greenwich, London

A public appeal by the Art Fund and the Royal Museums Greenwich has succeeded in raising the £10.3 million needed to bring the Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I into public ownership for the first time. A grant of £7.4 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund plus contributions made by the Linbury Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Headley Trust helped raise the funds, but a significant amount also came from public support: 8,000 individual donations totalled £1.5 million. The painting captures the spirit of the English Renaissance and is one of the most famous images in British history. It will hang in the Queen’s House, which was built on the site of Greenwich Palace, the birthplace of the Queen herself.

The Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I

The Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I (c.1590) English School. The Art Fund

Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut

The archive of the Famous Photographers School has entered the Yale University Art Gallery. The school was founded in 1961 in Westport, Connecticut as an offshoot of the Famous Artists School. This new acquisition offers an insight into the history of American photography, as well as the techniques and ideals of 10 ‘famous photographers’, including Richard Avedon, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Phillippe Halsman and Irving Penn. Several individual donors and acquisition funds made the purchase possible.

Famous Photographers School Faculty Portrait

Famous Photographers School Faculty Portrait (1964), Irving Penn