PORTLAND, ORE.- Following an international search, Dawson W. Carr, Ph.D., has been appointed the first Janet and Richard Geary Curator of European Art. As the first full-time European curator in the Museums 120-year history, he will be responsible for all European painting, sculpture, and drawings prior to 1850. Carr is currently the Curator of Spanish and Italian Paintings 1500-1800 and Head of Display at The National Gallery, London.
Through the generosity of Janet and Richard Geary, the Museum has attracted an internationally known scholar from a prestigious institution to Portland, said Chief Curator Bruce Guenther. Carr has a sterling reputation in the field with a distinguished record of exhibitions and publications.
Since joining The National Gallery in 2003, Carr has organized two of its most popular exhibitions: Caravaggio: The Final Years and Velázquez. He also curated Pompeo Batoni, 1708-1787 and Venice: Canaletto and his Rivals, which later traveled to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. He was instrumental in two major acquisitions to the distinguished London collection: Annibale Carraccis Montalto Madonna and Giovanni Paolo Paninis The Lottery in Piazza di Montecitorio, Rome.
Carr specializes in Italian and Spanish art of the 16th and 17th centuries, but has worked in a variety of areas. He has published widely in his field from individual catalogue entries to masterwork guides to the collection and monographic exhibition catalogues. He has been a frequent contributor to American and European scholarly journals and publications such as Apollo and Burlington Magazine. His Looking at Paintings: A Guide to Technical Terms, written with conservator Mark Leonard, remains a popular dictionary of the subject.
Prior to his tenure at The National Gallery, Carr served as a curator of paintings at The J. Paul Getty Museum, Calif., and was actively involved in the rapid development of the collection in the decade before the opening of the museum. He created the first major European exhibition at the Getty Center, Dosso Dossi: Court Painter in Renaissance Ferrara.
Carr holds doctorate and master degrees from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. He trained at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, where as an undergraduate he developed a love for Spanish art.
Dr Carr will bring fresh scholarship to the Museums collection and lead a new initiative in the Museums collecting and exhibitions. His presence in our community will serve to focus the institution and its patrons on the European core, noted Guenther.
Richard and Janet Geary, long-time patrons and trustees of the Museum, endowed this position in 2008. Life Trustee Laura Meier and her late husband Roger S. Meier established an endowment in 2005 to support Museum exhibitions and programs of European Art from the permanent collection and important international loans.
Carr will begin his tenure in Portland in January 2013.
When I visited Portland to interview for the job, I was completely seduced. I feel very fortunate to be moving to such a beautiful and interesting place, but even more to be assuming a position with such potential. It is evident from past gifts of works of art that the European tradition has long resonated with Portlanders. I hope to explore some old favorites in exhibitions, publications, and lectures, but also to encourage the acquisition of great works of art that will enhance the collection as a source of knowledge and inspiration, said Carr.
The European Collection
Since the Museums founding in 1892, European art has been at the core of the permanent collection. Museum founder Henry Corbett gave $10,000, which helped purchase the first acquisitions to the permanent and European collections: 100 plaster casts of Greek and Roman sculptures. The sculptures were chosen by Museum founder Winslow B. Ayer, who spent several months selecting works for the Museum from galleries and museums in Europe. In 1895, the Corbett Collection, as the casts were known, was installed. An instant success, the collection was considered Portlands most important and popular cultural resource.
Today, the collection occupies a sequence of galleries on the Main Buildings second floor allowing visitors to follow the works from the 17th century back to Classical Antiquity or forward to the 19th century. A gallery of classical antiquities displays a selection of Greek, Roman, and Etruscan objects, including red- and black-figure vases, small bronzes, and glass drawn from the Sally Lewis Collection donated to the Museum in 1926.
Several important paintings were acquired in the early decades of the 20th century, but it was through two significant bequests, the 1935 Winslow B. Ayer bequest and the 1943 C.F. Adams bequest, that the Museum acquired the French 18th-century Impressionist paintings at the core of the European collection. The 1960s and 1970s brought a significant group of French 18th- century paintings through the generosity of Dr. Edwin Binney, 3rd. The continuing enrichment of the collection into the present has resulted in the Museums collection being the largest group of old master works available to the public in the Northwest.