Works from the Life Estate of Paul Mellon, longtime donor and trustee at VMFA
, are being gifted to the museum upon the death of his widow, Rachel Lambert Mellon, who died March 17, 2014. Mrs. Mellon held a life estate in 26 works of art originally bequeathed to VMFA in 1999 by Mr. Mellon. Among the gifts are six masterworks, including Vincent van Goghs Daises, which will be officially acquired at the June 17 Board of Trustees meeting.
Through the Mellon familys historic gifts to the Commonwealths art museum, VMFA Director Alex Nyerges said, they transformed the museum into a center for display, study and appreciation of the arts, especially of Britain and France. The works amplify our already strong holdings in British and American art, but significantly increase the French holdings as well.
This week, a memorial to Mrs. Mellon was installed at the entrance to the Mellon French Gallery. The display spotlights Jean Schlumbergers Flower Pot, one of the objects dart in her collection that was included in the approximately 1,800 works of art given by the Mellons throughout their involvement with VMFA.
The Virginia Museum is particularly proud that the Mellon Collections include works of art representing subjects that were highly meaningful to Mrs. Mellon, such as flowers, gardens, and the French countryside, as well as the British and American horses and landscapes that Mr. Mellon admired, Nyerges said.
Among the most significant and transformative of the recent gifts, the following are works that represent styles, artists, or movements not already included in the Mellon French Collection.
Camille Pissarro (French 1830-1903) The Royal Palace at the Hermitage, Pontoise, May, 1879, oil on canvas. A landscape masterpiece from the height of Camille Pissarros fully-fledged high Impressionist period, representing the neighborhood of lHermitage in Pontoise, where he worked between 1866 and 1883. Pissarro heretofore has been represented by three other works: two Caribbean landscapes, and an earlier Pontoise streetscape.
Paul Gauguin (French 1848-1903) Still Life with Bowl, ca. 1889, oil on canvas. A classic Post-Impressionist Breton still life by Paul Gauguin, until now represented by a much-earlier still life in the manner of Manet.
Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890) Daisies, Arles, 1888, oil on canvas. A major Arles period still life of good size and excellent wall power by Vincent van Gogh, which will be featured in VMFAs upcoming exhibition Working Among Flowers. This popular artist was represented previously by four landscapes: two in oil and two ink drawings.
Georges Seurat (French, 1859-1891) Houses and Garden, ca. 1882, oil on canvas. A Pointillist landscape by Georges Seurat, VMFAs only oil by this rare master.
Kees van Dongen (Dutch, 1877-1968) Haystacks, ca. 1904-05, oil on canvas. A major early Kees van Dongen landscape in his rarely seen fully Fauve style, which will hang with the Henri Matisse and the early Maurice de Vlaminck as major examples of this movement.