Yale University has been collecting American art for more than 250 years. In 1832 it erected the first art museum on a college campus in North America, with the intention of housing John Trumbull’s paintings of the American Revolution—including his iconic painting The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776—and close to 100 of his portraits of Revolutionary and Early Republic worthies. Since then, the collection of the Yale University Art Gallery has grown to include celebrated works of art from virtually every period in American history. Encompassing works like an exquisite 18th-century watercolor-on-ivory memorial portrait of a bride, paintings of the towering grandeur of the American West in the 19th century, and jazz-influenced abstractions of the early 20th century, the Gallery’s collection reflects the diversity and artistic ambitions of the nation.
Superb examples from a “who’s who” of American painters and sculptors—including works by Benjamin West, John Singleton Copley, Ralph Earl, Albert Bierstadt, Hiram Powers, Frederic Church, Frederick Remington, Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, George Bellows, John Singer Sargent, Joseph Stella, Gerald Murphy, Eli Nadelman, Arthur Dove, Thomas Hart Benton, Edward Hopper, Alexander Calder, and Stuart Davis—bring the complex American story to life. Now these extraordinary works of art are in a new home—the elegantly restored galleries in Street Hall, the magnificent Ruskinian Gothic building designed in 1867 by Peter Bonnett Wight to be the first art school in America on a college campus. Rich in architectural detail and nobly proportioned, these breathtaking spaces allow the American collections to “breathe,” to present new visual alliances, and to create multiple artistic conversations. Under soaring skylights, the uniqueness of vision that generations of American artists brought to bear in the service of their art will be on full display.