SAN ANTONIO, TX.- The McNay Art Museum
announced a rare and important addition to the museum's notable collection of French paintings. Portrait of Madame H. M. Barzun by Albert Gleizes (1881-1953), now on view, is a bequest of Jacques Barzun. A Cubist work, the portrait dates to 1911, the year before Gleizes and fellow artist Jean Metzinger published Du Cubisme, the first major treatise on Cubism.
Depicted in the portrait is Anne-Rose, wife of diplomat and writer Henri-Martin Barzun. With Albert Gleizes and others, Barzun helped found and financially support the l'Abbaye de Creteil or Groupe de l'Abbaye, a utopian artistic and literary community (1906-1909). Once the group disbanded, the Barzun family moved to Paris where their home became an avant-garde salon, with regular visits by Gleizes, the writer Guillaume Apollinaire, and the artists Alexander Archipenko, Jean Cocteau, Marcel Duchamp, Fernand Leger, and Jean Metzinger.
Jacques Barzun, son of Anne-Rose and Henri-Martin Barzun, was born in France in 1907, and became one of the leading intellectuals and scholars of the 20th century. In addition to a long and distinguished career at Columbia University, Barzun was a prolific author and lecturer. Among his many books are Race, A Study in Superstition (1937-1950), The House of Intellect (1959-1961), The Use and Abuse of Art (1974), The Culture We Deserve (1989) and From Dawn to Decadence: 1500 to Present, 500 Years of Cultural Life (2000).
In 1996 Barzun, with his wife Marguerite, moved to San Antonio where he became a beloved member of the city's cultural community, and where he continued to live until his death in 2012 at the age of 104. Portrait of Madame H. M. Barzun was lent by Jacques Barzun to the McNay's 50th anniversary exhibition as a promised bequest. "The McNay is thrilled to add this important work to the permanent collection in this, our 60th anniversary year, and we are deeply grateful to Jacques Barzun and the Barzun family," said McNay Director, William J. Chiego.