A round-up of the best works of art to enter public collections recently
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Two pairs of Torah finials (c. 1688–89 and c. 1764)
Two pairs of Torah finials (ornaments fitted to the upper handles of a Torah scroll) – one a rare late 17th-century German silver set, the other in parcel-gilt silver from 18th-century England – were acquired by Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts at a Sotheby’s auction in New York. The German set was produced in Hamburg by Jurgen Richels, and acquired with the help of an anonymous donor. The later finials bear the marks of silversmith Edward Aldridge and are the first examples of Judaica from England to enter the museum, enriching its extensive collection of English silver.
National Maritime Museum, London
‘The Road to Germany’ (2015)
Refugee Week in the UK in June saw the National Maritime Museum update its collection of some 50,000 maps and sea charts with a digital map of the ‘Western Balkan route’ from Turkey to Germany, which was shared among Arabic-speaking refugees via social media in 2015. The acquisition was aided by Art Fund’s New Collecting Award, which the museum’s curator of cartography Megan Barford won in 2017.
Château de Versailles, France
Portrait of Alexandrine-Jeanne Le Normant d’Étiolles (1749), François Boucher
A Boucher portrait of Alexandrine-Jeanne, daughter of Madame de Pompadour and unofficial stepdaughter of King Louis XV, will hang in her mother’s apartments at Versailles. There are few recorded portraits of Alexandrine-Jeanne, who died just before her tenth birthday, and this is the only known replica by Boucher of the original pastel given to Madame de Pompadour’s brother and now lost. It was acquired with the help of the Friends of Versailles Society.
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
The Montgomery Collection of Caribbean Photographs
More 3,500 photographs taken in the Caribbean between 1840 and 1940 have been acquired by the Art Gallery of Ontario thanks in part to a collective gift from 27 donors, many of which are members of the black and Caribbean communities in Toronto. The images, which include landscapes and studio portraits, document the people and cultures of 34 countries, including Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago. They will be debuted to the public in an exhibition in 2021.
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, Delaware
Short Mountain (early 1850s), Robert S. Duncanson
This pastoral view of a stream and distant mountains, by the eminent African-American landscape painter Robert S. Duncanson, was inspired by a trip to the southern Appalachians of Tennessee. It is the first work from the mid 19th-century school of American landscape painting to be acquired by the museum. Unsigned and undated, the work has until now remained in private collections.
Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha
Still Life of Flowers in a Glass Vase (c. 1685), Maria van Oosterwyck
The acquisition of Maria van Oosterwyck’s vivid floral still life, now the earliest European work by a woman artist in the museum’s collection, expands and diversifies its notable Dutch and Flemish holdings. The work has been acquired with its original frame, which is rare for still bearing the metal hooks once used to support a silk curtain that protected the painting.
Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.
The Nabi Collection of Vicki and Roger Sant
A collection of more than 40 Nabi paintings and works on paper amassed by Vicki and Roger Sant has been promised to the Phillips Collection, along with a considerable endowment for their preservation and study. Works by eight members of the group formed in fin-de-siècle Paris – among them Pierre Bonnard, Édouard Vuillard and Félix Vallotton – are included in the collection, and will be featured in an exhibition opening on 26 October.
Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Set of pier tables and glasses (mirrors) (c. 1771), Thomas Chippendale
A set of particularly opulent pier tables and glasses, or mirrors, by Thomas Chippendale have been allocated to the V&A through the UK government’s Acceptance in Lieu scheme. Thanks to a loan agreement, the pieces, which will undergo restoration, are to remain on public view in the Music Room of Harewood House in Yorkshire, for which they were originally commissioned.