National Gallery of Art Gets Trove of Rare Impressionist Works

Vincent van Gogh, Still Life of Oranges and Lemons with Blue Gloves (1889) Photo: National Gallery of Art
Vincent van Gogh, Still Life of Oranges and Lemons with Blue Gloves (1889) Photo: National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. has received a gift an additional 62 works by Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Winslow Homer and Georges Seurat from the Mellon family, the Washington Post reports. Following philanthropist Paul Mellon’s death in 1999, his collection was placed under the care of his wife, Rachel “Bunny” Mellon. This group of works, some of which haven’t been seen for decades, round out 110 in total given to the National Gallery from the estate.

Mellon’s widow gave 48 works to the museum during her lifetime, this subsequent group following after her death in March. According to Kimberly A. Jones, associate curator of French Paintings at the National Gallery, most of the pieces are relatively small in scale. However, “It’s not about the physical scale but the quality of the works, which is exceptional,” she told the paper.

Highlights of the gift include a Van Gogh’s Still Life of Oranges and Lemons with Blue Gloves (1889). The painting will go on display next month. Along with several other works from the collection it is currently undergoing restoration and conservation efforts. The Riders (1875-76) adds yet one more work to the museum’s formidable collection of Edgar Degas, the third-largest in the world.

Twelve oil sketches by Seurat are also among the donated works. Combined with the five Seurat works already in the gallery’s possession, it now has one of the most significant collections of his work in the US, Jones told the paper. Other highlights include one of Monet’s earliest known paintings, Still Life with Bottle, Carafe, Bread and Wine (1862-63) and a large pastel by William Merritt Chase.

The National Gallery of Art is planning an exhibition in 2016 to honor the Mellons.


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