The Brandywine River Museum of Art and The Westmoreland Museum of American Art have come together in this exhibition to share their finest works from the Richard M. Scaife Bequest. A long-time trustee of the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art—as well as a newspaper publisher, art collector, and philanthropist—Scaife left a major part of his extensive art collection to both museums following his death in 2014. This exhibition, which will include 50 paintings, celebrates Scaife’s passion for the rich traditions of American art. Seeing these paintings together will not only allow visitors insight into the collecting vision of both museums, but also the range of Mr. Scaife’s collecting tastes.
Brandywine and Westmoreland gained masterworks of American art that will be viewed together for the first time in this exhibition. For the Brandywine, Scaife’s gift added significant depth to its landscape holdings, introducing, for example, extraordinary works by Martin Johnson Heade, John Frederick Kensett and Albert Bierstadt, and American Impressionist paintings by Theodore Robinson and Julian Alden Weir. Westmoreland’s collection was also enriched by Scaife’s bequest—adding a stunning landscape by George Inness, for example—along with several marine paintings and elegant figurative works by artists such as William Merritt Chase and Guy Pene du Bois. Together, these paintings present a fascinating overview of the evolution of American art in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Mr. Scaife believed in the uplifting potential of art and its ability to help us better understand the world and the issues facing us. Through his bequest, these works of art, once enjoyed privately in domestic settings, have become part of the public realm. As he wrote toward the end of his life: “Beautiful art—paintings, music, literature, whatever—can transform our moods, lighten our hearts, make us think or change our minds, inspire us to be creative or live better lives.”