A Magnificent Stillness

June 26, 2015 to November 8, 2015

A Magnificent Stillness

American Art from a Private Collection

Private collections are often just that; in addition to reflecting the personal interests of the collectors, they are displayed in private spaces. The PMA is very fortunate to have strong friendships with several collectors who possess exceptional taste and a passion for sharing their art with the public. Our galleries are greatly enriched with their works and, this summer, the museum shines a spotlight on one of these collections in its entirety.

A Magnificent Stillness: American Art from a Private Collection showcases the exquisite collection of 15 American paintings amassed by longtime museum Trustee and patron Dr. Walter Goldfarb and his late wife, Marcia. While you might recognize some of these works—the Goldfarbs generously donated several paintings to the museum and lent others for display in our galleries—this exhibition presents the rare opportunity to explore this jewel-like collection in depth.

Inspired by a love of 19th-century American art and possessed of a great eye, Dr. Goldfarb began collecting several decades ago in three distinct categories. There are ship portraits by Robert Salmon and others—images that truly function as portraits, given their exacting and individualized renditions of particular vessels. Another category includes landscapes in the tradition of the Hudson River School, but with special attention to luminous atmospheric effects. Leading figures of this genre—Martin Johnson Heade, John Frederick Kensett, and Fitz Henry Lane—are among the featured artists. Finally, the collection also includes trompe l’oeil still lifes by John Haberle, William Michael Harnett, and John Frederick Peto. These paintings are virtuoso feats of pictorial illusionism, intended to fool you into thinking you’re viewing actual objects.

What unites these diverse works is their meticulous craftsmanship, precise detailing, and quiet calm. These paintings also have a sly stillness—they draw you in, asking you to pause and contemplate their charms.


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