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Virginia Museum of Fine Arts features new works from the life estate of Paul Mellon
Kees van Dongen (Dutch, active in France, 1877-1968), Haystacks, ca. 1904-05, oil on canvas. Unframed: 19 ⅝ × 25 ½ in. (49.8 × 64.8 cm). Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

RICHMOND, VA.- Works from the life estate of Paul Mellon, longtime VMFA donor and trustee, are in the newly reinstalled Mellon Galleries, opening on Friday, January 16. The galleries have been closed for six months to protect the art during a roof replacement. Eleven works have been reframed as a part of the ongoing Mellon reframing project.

The life estate remained with Mellon’s widow, Rachel Lambert Mellon, until her death on 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 highlights are six masterworks by Degas, Gauguin, Pissarro, Seurat, Dufy, and van Dongen.

“Through the Mellon family’s historic gifts to the Commonwealth’s 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, which are highlighted in these beautifully installed galleries. We are particularly excited that one of the new works, Van Gogh’s Daisies Arles will be featured in Van Gogh, Manet, and Matisse: The Art of the Flower, which opens March 21.”

The Mellon bequest provides for the reframing of key works over time. In these galleries, works have been reframed with appropriate period frames by Gill & Lagodich Gallery of New York. Reframed works include two Monets and three Boudins, as well as all the newly acquired works.

Featured new works include:

• 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 Pissarro’s fully-fledged high Impressionist period, representing the neighborhood of l’Hermitage 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 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 VMFA’s upcoming exhibition Van Gogh, Manet, and Matisse: The Art of the Flower. 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, VMFA’s 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.

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January 16, 2015

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