November 15, 2002
The Baltimore Museum of Art Presents “A Grand Legacy: Five Centuries of European Art”
Elegant reinstallation of galleries opens January 12, 2003
BALTIMORE, MD (November 15, 2002)—The Baltimore Museum of Art’s distinguished collection of 15th– through 19th-century European art returns to the opulent galleries of the Jacobs Wing in a dramatic reinstallation. A Grand Legacy: Five Centuries of European Art, opening January 12, 2003, features Rinaldo and Armida, one of the world’s finest paintings by Sir Anthony van Dyck, as well as French and Northern European masterpieces by Frans Hals, Rembrandt van Rijn, Jean Baptiste Siméon Chardin, and Louise Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun. The galleries also showcase a superlative collection of 19th-century French sculpture by Auguste Rodin and his teacher, Antoine-Louis Barye, and works on paper by notable artists such as Eugène Delacroix and Édouard Manet.
“The newly restored galleries in the Jacobs Wing are a grand showcase for the BMA’s impressive collection of European art,” said BMA Director Doreen Bolger. “This dramatic reinstallation is another opportunity for visitors to discover and appreciate the richness of our collection.”
The magnificent examples of European paintings and sculpture in the galleries are integrated for the first time with a fine selection of decorative arts—jeweled snuffboxes, Sèvres porcelain, and an exquisite French writing desk. An ongoing rotation of works on paper dating from the 15th century permits the BMA to display exceptional items from its Old Master print collection. Highlights include etchings and engravings by Rembrandt and Albrecht Dürer. The reinstallation also features three galleries of Renaissance and Medieval works, including Botticelli’s Virgin and Child and a 14th-century Burgundian Madonna and Child sculpture.
The Jacobs Wing galleries, designed by the great American neoclassical architect John Russell Pope, have undergone a three-year, $1.9 million renovation and reinstallation. Physical improvements include a new roof and skylights, enhanced lighting designed by Gordon Anson of the National Gallery of Art, and the restoration of original woodwork, including floors and elaborate doorframes. The reinstallation builds on the success of the 2001 Cone Wing renovation and reflects the BMA’s ongoing commitment to presenting its collection in ways that create a dynamic and engaging visitor experience.
This reinstallation is generously sponsored by The Richard C. von Hess Foundation. The Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency that fosters innovation, leadership and a lifetime of learning, supported conservation of several important objects in this installation. The Jacobs Wing roof replacement was made possible through the use of capital improvement funds from the City of Baltimore.
A Grand Legacy: Five Centuries of European Art is curated by Sona Johnston, BMA Senior Curator of Painting & Sculpture.
Highlights of the Jacobs Wing galleries include superb works from the 17th through 19th centuries, most notably van Dyck’s Rinaldo and Armida (1629), a masterpiece of allegorical and Romantic painting. Other collection strengths include masterful examples of Flemish, Dutch, and French painting: the intriguing gaze of Dorothea Berck (1644) by portraitist Frans Hals, genre painter Chardin’s portrayal of a lovely maiden tossing a ball in The Game of Knucklebones (c. 1734), Rembrandt’s painting of his son peeking out from a dark canvas in Titus (1660), and the jewel-like beauty of the exotic Princess Anna Alexandrovna Galitzin (c. 1797) by French court portraitist Vigée-Lebrun. Other notable works include landscapes by Jacob van Ruisdael, Hubert Robert, and Francesco Guardi.
The reinstallation also includes the first space for the public display of the extraordinary George A. Lucas Collection of 19th-century French art. Composed of nearly 20,000 prints and drawings, as well as paintings, bronzes, and an unusual selection of artist’s palettes, the collection provides a comprehensive survey of 19th-century graphic arts. Artists represented include Honoré Daumier, Eugène Delacroix, and Édouard Manet, as well as major examples of sculpture by Antoine-Louis Barye and notable works by French academic painters and members of the Barbizon School.
Two intimate galleries will feature rotating thematic exhibitions from this collection. The first gallery celebrates the friendship between art collector George A. Lucas and animalier sculptor and painter Antoine-Louis Barye with a selection of the artist’s bronze sculptures of animals engaged in combat, as well as several works in watercolor. The second gallery will highlight a selection of paintings ranging from French academic painting to Orientalism, including works by Jean-Leon Gérome and Benjamin Constant.
The Legacy of Great Baltimore Collectors
The treasures in the BMA’s impressive galleries of European art are the result of the generosity of several prominent Baltimore collectors.
The galleries are named for Mary Frick Jacobs, a 19th-century doyenne of Baltimore society and one of the original incorporators of the Museum. She significantly expanded the BMA’s holdings of European art when she left her collection to the Museum in 1938 with the provision that a wing be built to house it. Featuring European paintings from the 15th through 18th centuries, the collection also includes 18th-century tapestries, furniture, and objets d’art.
The Jacob Epstein Collection, featured in the center gallery of the Jacobs Wing, was donated to the Museum in 1951 and includes two of the BMA’s most important works: van Dyck’s Rinaldo and Armida and Rodin’s The Thinker. One of the founding trustees of the museum, Epstein came to America from Lithuania and built a retail empire in Baltimore. His collection dramatically expanded the Museum’s Old Master holdings.
The reinstallation marks the first time galleries are dedicated to rotating displays from the 20,000-item George A. Lucas Collection, a premiere holding of 19th-century art that includes 19,000 prints and drawings and 300 oil paintings, as well as more than 140 bronzes by Antoine-Louis Barye. Lucas spent 50 years living in Paris collecting art and acting as an agent for several other discerning collectors, including William and Henry Walters of Baltimore and William Corcoran of Washington, D.C. He had the unusual fortune of forming his collection during the lifetime of the artists represented. The 1996 acquisition of the Lucas Collection was made possible through generous funding from the State of Maryland; the Bequest of Laurence Bendann; and donations from individuals, corporations, and foundations across the Baltimore community.
Other Baltimore collectors who helped form this diverse holding of European art include Saidie A. May and her sister Blanche Adler, Elise Agnus Daingerfield, and T. Harrison Garrett, as well as numerous donors of individual works who have enriched the collection through the years.
About the Baltimore Museum of Art
Founded in 1914, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) inspires people of all ages and backgrounds through exhibitions, programs, and collections that tell an expansive story of art—challenging long-held narratives and embracing new voices. Our outstanding collection of more than 97,000 objects spans many eras and cultures and includes the world’s largest public holding of works by Henri Matisse; one of the nation’s finest collections of prints, drawings, and photographs; and a rapidly growing number of works by contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds. The museum is also distinguished by a neoclassical building designed by American architect John Russell Pope and two beautifully landscaped gardens featuring an array of modern and contemporary sculpture. The BMA is located three miles north of the Inner Harbor, adjacent to the main campus of Johns Hopkins University, and has a community branch at Lexington Market. General admission is free so that everyone can enjoy the power of art.