Mary Morton has been named curator and head of the department of French paintings at the National Gallery of Art
by Director Earl A. Powell III. Morton's appointment becomes effective in early January 2010, when she will oversee one of the world's outstanding public collections of approximately 575 French paintings dating from the 17th to the early 20th century, as well as an active program of related exhibitions and acquisitions.
"Mary Morton brings to the National Gallery of Art a rich background steeped in academia and distinguished by curatorial positions at top museums, where she has been deeply involved in scholarly exhibitions and catalogues," said Powell.
Widely published, Morton has been associate curator of paintings at the J. Paul Getty Museum since 2004 and was associate curator of European art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, from 1998 to 2004. She is currently developing an online catalogue of the Getty's paintings collection. Among the recent exhibitions she has organized at the Getty are Sur le Motif: Painting in Nature around 1800 (2008), Oudry's Painted Menagerie (2007), and Courbet and the Modern Landscape (2006). While in Houston, she organized Focus on the Beck Collection: André Derain's "The Turning Road, L'Estaque" in 2002 and during the same period collaborated on such shows as Paris in the Age of Impressionism: Masterworks from the Musée d'Orsay and Old Masters, Impressionists and Moderns: French Masterworks from the State Pushkin Museum, Moscow.
Morton received her M.A. in 1992 and her Ph.D. in the history of art and architecture in 1998 from Brown University, Providence; her dissertation was entitled "Naturalism and Nostalgia: Hippolyte Taine's Lectures on Art History at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, 18651869." Her area of specialization was 19th- and early 20th-century European art. In 1987 she earned her B.A. in history with departmental honors from Stanford University, CA, where she focused on European intellectual history.
Morton has held teaching positions in art history at the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA; Woodbury University, Burbank, CA; Chapman University, Orange, CA; and Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI.
Morton will arrive at the National Gallery of Art some two years after the death of Philip Conisbee, senior curator of European paintings. In the intervening period, Kimberly Jones, associate curator, has been acting head of the department of French paintings.
Beginning in late fall 2009, most of the Gallery's West Building main floor galleries dedicated to French paintings of the 19th century will be closed for approximately 18 months during the Gallery's continuing program of repair, renovation, and restoration. However, major works from the collection will be on view from January 31, 2010 through July 31, 2011 in the central galleries of the West Building as part of the exhibition From Impressionism to Modernism: The Chester Dale Collection. In other relocations, French paintings from the 18th century will return to their original galleries next to the American collection, some works will be integrated into the Small French Paintings galleries in the East Building, and other select 19th-century works will be hung near modern paintings in the upper level galleries of the East Building.