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November 1, 2013
Transformative Gift from the Arthur Ross Foundation Significantly Enhances the Holdings of the Yale University Art Gallery and Extends the Gallery’s Groundbreaking Collection-Sharing Initiative
The Yale University Art Gallery is pleased to announce a significant gift from the Arthur Ross Foundation of more than 1,000 18th- to 20th-century Italian, French, and Spanish prints of the highest quality. The foundation has also made a generous grant to support an exhibition and publications about the collection, and an endowment for its ongoing care. This gift makes important teaching resources available to students and scholars, strengthens the Gallery’s holdings of works on paper, and supports the documentation and care of the collection.
As Janet Ross has stated, “Those who served as Directors of the Arthur Ross Foundation and the family of Arthur Ross take great comfort and satisfaction in the certainty that, at the Yale University Art Gallery, the Arthur Ross Collection of prints will be given the best care possible in perpetuity. As Mr. Ross intended, these inspired and inspiring works will be generously shared with a broad audience, who can view them in expertly curated exhibitions and as works made available for study.”
Jock Reynolds, the Henry J. Heinz II Director of the Gallery, asserts, “It is a great privilege to be able to keep this remarkable collection of highest-quality impressions intact, and be given the opportunity to make these important prints available as an educational resource here at Yale and to also share them broadly with other college and university art museums.”
With this gift, the Gallery reaffirms a commitment it has made since 2009 to sharing its collections with other college and university art museums for teaching. Exhibitions from the Arthur Ross Collection are being planned at two other institutions, one public and one private: the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas, Austin, and the Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts. Simone Wicha, Director of the Blanton Museum of Art, noted “We are honored to bring the Arthur Ross Collection to the Blanton. Like our colleagues at Yale and Smith, we are committed to providing students with inspiring and transformative experiences with art. The Blanton will collaborate with faculty from different disciplines towards presenting new insights about these extraordinary works on paper for the benefit of both our campus and city audiences.” And from Jessica Nicoll, Director and Chief Curator for the Smith College Museum of Art, “The Smith College Museum of Art is delighted to embark on a second collection sharing project with our friends at the Yale University Art Gallery. We look forward to developing a special exhibition that will bring highlights from the Arthur Ross collection into dialogue with our own holdings and will promote intellectual exchange among our staffs and faculty, creating a rich educational experience for our audiences.”
In addition, individual works from the Arthur Ross Collection will be freely shared with other teaching museums throughout the country, with special consideration given to the University of Pennsylvania, where Mr. Ross attended Wharton for three formative years during the great depression and which is home to a Gallery endowed by him and bearing his name but which does not have a permanent collection.
“The Arthur Ross Collection significantly augments the Yale University Art Gallery’s collection in both the enchanting area of 18th-century Italian prints, and the tumultuous variety of 19th-century French works,” notes Suzanne Boorsch, the Robert L. Solley Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, “and to have a first edition of Goya’s Tauromaquia is a long-held dream.” Also included in the collection are works by the 18th-century Italian artists Giovanni Canal, called Canaletto; Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and his sons, Giovanni Domenico and Lorenzo Baldissera; and Giovanni Battista Piranesi. The Spaniard Francisco de Goya, active in the later 18th and early 19th centuries, is represented, as well as such major 19th-century French artists as Camille Corot, Eugène Delacroix, Honoré Daumier, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, Paul Gauguin, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Paul Cézanne. Among the most highly prized works—in addition to Goya’s Tauromaquia in its first edition of 1816, a series of 34 etched images of the history and major heroes of bullfighting—are most of Delacroix’s illustrations for Hamlet; some of Daumier’s most biting satirical images, as well as his complete Bas Bleus (Bluestocking) series of lithographs; an extremely rare Degas etching of a Velazquez portrait of the Infanta Margarita; and Gauguin’s etched portrait of Stéphane Mallarmé. Also in the collection are unusual prints such as 59 etchings by Mortimer Menpes, an artist from Australia who immigrated to Britain, and whose work is little known in America; all four volumes of Piranesi’s Antiquities of Rome; and views by Francesco Piranesi of Paestum and the then-recently excavated ruins of Pompeii.
The inaugural exhibition, which will feature selections from the collection, will be on view at the Gallery in late 2015 and will be coordinated by Ms. Boorsch, who oversees the Gallery’s collection of more than 50,000 works on paper. Following the Yale presentation, selections from the collection will travel to the Blanton Museum and to the Smith College Museum during 2016 to be incorporated into the museums’ teaching and exhibition programs. At Yale, Ms. Boorsch will work closely with students and postdoctoral fellows to research the collection, mentoring the scholarly development and curatorial experience of emerging museum professionals. The project teams at each of the partner institutions will also engage students and emerging scholars, providing rigorous training opportunities for the field. Faculty will teach from the collection and resulting exhibitions at all three venues.
The accompanying exhibition catalogue will be published by December 2015; additional, subsequent volumes will address selections and topics of the venues’ choosing. Curators, other scholars, and students from all three institutions will contribute to the publications. A grant from the Arthur Ross Foundation provides for the inaugural exhibitions and related publications, and for an endowment for the lending and collection-care program.
About the Arthur Ross Collection
The Arthur Ross Collection, known for its numerous complete sets of important 18th- and 19th-century print series of the highest quality, consists of more than 1,000 prints. The collection was previously owned by the Arthur Ross Foundation, which was founded in 1955 by Arthur Ross (1910–2007), a native New Yorker, businessman, and philanthropist. The foundation supported numerous cultural and social nonprofit organizations, contributed to fellowship and scholarship programs at institutions of higher learning, and collected works of art for public exhibition. On December 21, 2012, the Arthur Ross Foundation officially ceased operations.
About the Yale University Art Gallery Collection-Sharing Initiative
Founded in 2009 with a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Yale University Art Gallery Collection-Sharing Initiative derives from the belief that there is no substitute for studying original works of art. The Gallery—which recognizes that it is fortunate to have an extraordinarily rich collection—invites other college and university art museums to borrow works to enrich their own programs and curricula. Pamela Franks, Deputy Director for Collections and Education at the Gallery, who has directed the Collection-Sharing Initiative since its inception, notes, “It is an extraordinary privilege for the Gallery to be able to lend works of art of such high quality, and the Collection-Sharing Initiative facilitates loans to other college and university art museums and thus makes important, original works more widely available for teaching. Equally valuable is the way the initiative also fosters ongoing collegial relationships between museum professionals across institutions and encourages open exchange about object research and pedagogical approaches to teaching with original works of art.”
The benefits of collection sharing are reciprocal; while the partner institutions are given access to the Gallery’s renowned collection, the development of new projects and teaching initiatives strengthens the Gallery’s knowledge of its collection. Since the initiative began, more than 230 works have been incorporated into more than 140 courses offered by the original six partner museums.