‘This Truly Is a Landmark’: An Atlanta Couple Donates a Major Impressionist Collection to the High Museum of Art

The donation, which comes from local patrons Doris and Shouky Shaheen, is one of the biggest in the museum’s history.

Alfred Sisley, Une rue à Marly (1876). Courtesy of the High Museum of Art, Atlanta.

In what is one of the most significant gifts in its history, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta announced today that it has been given 24 treasured Impressionist, post-Impressionist, and Modernist paintings.

The donation comes from Atlanta-based philanthropists and collectors Doris and Shouky Shaheen, who have had a relationship with the High over the past several decades. The full collection, which includes paintings by Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Édouard Vuillard, among other notable names, will go on view later this year in a gallery to be named after the couple. 

“This truly is a landmark gift for us,” Rand Suffolk, director of the High Museum, tells artnet News. “Any time you acquire a new work—let alone an entire collection—it provides an opportunity to think differently about the works that you already have and gives you an opportunity to create and inspire new programming around it. Adding a collection of this caliber and this breadth, which is so complementary to what we already have, will allow us to do those things in new and creative ways. It’s an extraordinary opportunity.”

Camille Pissarro, <i>Paysanne assise</i> (1882). Courtesy of the High Museum of Art, Atlanta.

Camille Pissarro, Paysanne assise (1882). Courtesy of the High Museum of Art, Atlanta.

The High boasts a substantial European art collection, with over 1,000 works from the 14th century to the 20th century. The collection is currently made up largely of works on paper, Suffolk says, which makes the Shaheen’s gift that much more significant for the institution. The museum will now own paintings by Matisse, Modigliani, Henri Fantin-Latour, and Alfred Sisley for the first time. 

The Shaheens are the founders of Shaheen and Co., an Atlanta-based company that supplies warehouse space in the area. The couple moved to the city in 1965 and began building their art collection not long after. One of their first purchases was Maurice de Vlaminck’s painting Banlieue de Paris (ca. 1922) from local gallery in the early 1970s.

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, <i>La bohemiènne à mandoline assise</i> (ca. 1860s–1870s). Courtesy of the High Museum of Art, Atlanta.

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, La bohemiènne à mandoline assise (ca. 1860s–70s). Courtesy of the High Museum of Art, Atlanta.

“It’s been a great blessing of our life together to build this collection and live with these incredible works,” the couple said in a statement. “Given our love for this collection and our love for this city, we knew the High was the best home for these paintings. We’re thrilled that Atlantans will enjoy them for generations to come.”

“The Shaheens really are great philanthropists. They love this city,” Suffolk said. “I think this gift is as much of an investment in Atlanta as it is in the museum itself. We’re super proud of their confidence and faith in us and we’re going to do everything we can to position these works so that they’ll provide inspiration and enjoyment for generations to come.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
Article topics