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American Folk Art Museum announces important works of art brought into permanent collection
Daniel Steel Watercolor Book. Photo: Courtesy of Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- The American Folk Art Museum today announces recent acquisitions of both traditional folk art and works by the self-taught that greatly enhance its collection.

Commented Dr. Anne-Imelda Radice, Executive Director: “The Museum is grateful for the generosity of those friends and donors who made these gifts possible. Generations to come will benefit from these works, which are richly imbued with aesthetic and historic value.”

Following are highlights.

The Peaceable Kingdom, Owned by Edward Hicks’s Daughter
The celebrated early American artist Edward Hicks (1780-1849) is perhaps best known for his masterpieces on the theme of the peaceable kingdom. An important version of this work has been donated to the Museum as a gift from Carroll and Donna Janis. The painting had been acquired by Mr. Janis’s father, Sidney Janis. This oil on canvas, c. 1829-1831, measuring 16 ¾ by 20,” is the painting the artist gave to his daughter, Sarah Hicks Parry (1816-1895) of Horsham, PA, as a wedding gift.

“This important American painting has always been a ‘must-see’ for visitors. Two versions had previously been on extended loan. We are so pleased that the painting will now be part of our permanent collection,” said Dr. Radice. “We have received a masterpiece with a provenance that makes this gift rare.”

Quaker artist Edward Hicks painted at least 62 versions of The Peaceable Kingdom over a period of more than 30 years. According to Carolyn J. Weekley, in The Kingdoms of Edward Hicks (1999, Abby Aldrich Folk Art Museum, Williamsburg, Virginia; Philadelphia Museum of Art), this particular version is distinguished by a more sensitive rendering and also by the increased number of animals—bears, cattle, a second lion—as well as its depiction of animals sharing food. Hicks also added three children to this version of the scene.

Trained as an ornamental painter, Hicks may have turned to this religious theme because of criticism from Quaker neighbors who felt his ornamental work was at odds with their beliefs. He began painting the scene, which is based on words from Isaiah (11:6-9), c. 1816-1818. Over time, Hicks seems to have used the idea as a reflection of his own anguish over rifts within the Society of Friends, which by 1827 had divided into two groups: the conservative Hicksites, named after Hicks’s elderly cousin Elias Hicks (1748-1830), and the Orthodox, who advocated formal structure in worship and other changes.

The painting remained with Hicks’s descendants for many years. It was over time represented by the renowned Edith Gregor Halpert at her American Folk Art Gallery, Terry Dintenfass, and the Sidney Janis Gallery.

Achilles Rizzoli: The Kathredal
Among the architectural portraits by self-taught artist Achilles Rizzoli (1896-1981) are five he made as birthday greetings for his mother. American Folk Art Museum trustee and collector Audrey Heckler has donated one of these masterpieces to the Museum. Mother Symbolically Represented/The Kathredal, an ink on rag paper, is dated November 11, 1936, the same year Rizzoli, joined an architectural firm as a draftsman (where he remained for the next 40 years). The picture (27 ¾ high by 47 5/8” wide), one of the most elaborate of his architectural portraits, symbolically depicts his “beautiful, beautiful Mother” as a grandiose, meticulously-rendered Gothic-style cathedral. Rizzoli also loved to play with words, and frequently used anagrams, acronyms, and neologisms in his work.

Daniel Steele’s Watercolor Book and Other Purchases
Three beautiful artworks were purchased at the recent Sotheby’s sale of the collection of Ralph O. Esmerian. These three join a selection of 53 gifts from the same collection, which had become permanent holdings of the museum in 2012. (Mr. Esmerian had donated 65 works as outright gifts in 2005.) Of special note is an extraordinary early 19th-century booklet inscribed with the name Daniel Steele (possibly the artist), which the museum became aware of at the sale. The exquisite volume includes 40 pages of drawings and tune notations in ink and watercolor. The purchase of the Daniel Steele book, along with a plate with an unusual depiction of a running horse in a resist glaze technique using stencils, was made possible with funds provided by Becky and Bob Alexander, Lucy and Mike Danziger, Jane and Gerald Katcher, Donna and Marvin Schwartz, Kristy and Steve Scott, an anonymous donor, and earmarked acquisition funds from the museum. Additionally, Lucy and Mike Danziger purchased for the museum a miniature plate with slipware decoration.

Gift from the Thornton Dial Family
A magnificent artwork by Thornton Dial (b. 1928) has been donated to the Museum by the Thornton Dial family. An imposing and ethereal piece by internationally acclaimed artist, Birds Got to Have Somewhere to Roost (2012, 61 ¼ by 48 by 10”), made of wood, carpet scraps, corrugated tin, burlap, nails, and enamel on wood, suggests a fragment of a “yard show.” It is part of a series of works Dial started in the spring of 2011, two years after he’d had a stroke, when a number of natural disasters throughout the world had occurred. The series expresses universal themes through aspects of his daily life, becoming a visual autobiography.

A Number of Significant Works by Other African-American Self-Taught Artists
Collectors Ron and June Shelp have generously donated 11 important works by renowned African-American self-taught artists. These include Hawkins Bolden (1914-2005); Thornton Dial Sr. (b. 1928); Richard Dial (b. 1955); Lonnie Holley (b. 1950); Ronald Lockett (1965-1998); Mary Tillman Smith (1904-1995); and Mose Tolliver (1919/1921-2006).

Italian-American Artist Ralph Fasanella
The Estate of Ralph Fasanella (1914-1997) has donated dozens of publications and films, along with ephemera from the artist’s (and his wife Eva’s) private collection. This gift expands a major archive established at the Museum in 2009, which contains Fasanella’s notebooks, sketches, correspondence, personal records, and photographs.

A Martín Ramírez
David L. Davies, a former Museum trustee, and Jack Weeden, who had previously established for the Museum a $1 million exhibition fund in their names, have now donated a beautiful crayon and pencil drawing on pieced paper by Mexican-American artist Martín Ramírez (1895–1963). The sepia-hued artwork depicts one of the artist’s signature themes: a jinete (rider on a horse), heavily armed, boxed in a dense landscape of lines and waves, with the white pommel of a saddle in the center of the drawing. This work may refer to rebels during Mexico’s national revolution or Cristero Rebellion (1926-29). It may also be a triumphant self-portrait as Ramírez has been described as an accomplished horseman.

By Hiroyuki Doi
Japanese artist Hiroyuki Doi (b. 1946), who was the subject of a recent exhibition in Tokyo, Japan, has generously donated an ink drawing on paper to the Museum, titled Soul (HDY 0313). Doi considers his idiom of tiny circles a resistance against technology and computerized society, a healing balm offered to the cosmos that assumes dimensions of galaxies, topographies, and natural

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