The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., has announced that it will receive one of the largest collections of early American furniture in private hands, as well as paintings and works on paper by major Dutch and American artists.
Acquired over the past four decades, the collection assembled by George M. and Linda H. Kaufman contains more than two hundred pieces of early American furniture, including masterpieces produced in such major furniture making centers as Boston and Salem, Massachusetts; Newport and Providence, Rhode Island; New York City; Philadelphia; Baltimore; and Charleston, South Carolina. The pieces span the period from 1690 to 1830 and include objects in the William and Mary, Queen Anne, Chippendale, and Neoclassical styles. According to the New York Times, the furniture alone could be worth more than $250 million.
A smaller selection of other decorative arts included in the gift encompasses mirrors, looking glasses, clocks, and a pair of painted porcelain "Old Paris" vases (c. 1820) with portraits of George Washington and John Adams; four rare pieces of Bonnin and Morris porcelain (1770-1772), from America's first porcelain manufactory; and an Amelung glass tumbler decorated with the American eagle that was made for the inauguration of George Washington in 1789.
Most of the thirty-five paintings included in the gift are of Dutch origin, although they also include an early watercolor by Winslow Homer, "Gloucester Sunset" (1880); two watercolors by Childe Hassam, including "Portrait of the Artist's Wife (Leaning on a Garden Wall)" (1890); more than forty watercolors by French artist Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759-1840); and watercolors by Francis A. Silva and William Trost Richards.
"One of America's earliest art forms was furniture influenced by European traditions, and this is an opportunity for the gallery to complement not only its European decorative arts...but also our growing collection of American art," said National Gallery chairman Earl A. Powell III. "With this donation, the gallery would house one of the finest assemblages of early American furniture, and there is no such comparable and easily accessible public collection in the nation's capital."