Longtime patrons James W. and Frances Gibson McGlothlin have given their collection of 73 works to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for permanent installation in the McGlothlin American Art Galleries. The value of the McGlothlin Collection exceeds $200 million and will open to the public on November 24.
“We originally intended to give these paintings to VMFA after our lifetime,” Jim McGlothlin said, “but we’ve recently decided it’s more important for them to reach the hundreds of thousands of patrons who visit the museum. We would rather share in the public’s enjoyment of these works, and hope visitors receive as much pleasure from them as we have.”
VMFA Director Alex Nyerges said: “The McGlothlins’ unexpected gift is a magnanimous gesture of national importance. These works greatly strengthen our American collection with 12 artworks by John Singer Sargent, five new Bellows and 56 additional major works for visitors to enjoy.
“We are indebted to the McGlothlin family for endowing Virginians with their great collection.” Twenty of these works have not been exhibited at VMFA before and the breadth of the new collection will add appreciably to VMFA’s American holdings. Spanning the formative century from 1830 to 1930, from the Hudson River School to Modernism, it is one of the most important collections of historic American art in private hands and will contribute significant depth to VMFA’s collection from this period, said Susan J. Rawles, PhD, VMFA’s associate curator of American painting and decorative art. Renowned artists include Childe Hassam, John Singer Sargent, George Bellows, James A.M. Whistler, and Mary Cassatt, among others.
Such a historically representative and significant collection of American art has not been gifted to a North American museum in more than 30 years. In 1985, David and Eula Wintermann gave more than 50 American paintings dating from 1880 to 1925 to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, providing a foundation for the development of that collection.
“The addition of the McGlothlin Collection anticipates the strong future trajectory of American Art at VMFA,” Rawles said, “complementing our current holdings of approximately 2,000 works.”
The expansive historic scope of the McGlothlin collection will be reflected in the installation, where visitors will encounter broad themes, including Westward the Course of Empire: American Landscape, The Gilded Age of Realism and Impressionism, and All That Glitters Is Not Gold: Modernism.