Wadsworth Atheneum celebrates J. Pierpont Morgan in ‘Mind of the Collector’
Published 12:00 am, Thursday, October 12, 2017
Collecting more than 20,000 works of art in a 23-year period, financier J. Pierpont Morgan never forgot about supporting cultural institutions in his native Hartford.
In celebration of his life (1837-1913), the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art is offering “Morgan: Mind of the Collector” through Dec. 31.
The museum pointed out: “Morgan traveled the globe to collect” treasures; “his broad acquisitions included sculpture, manuscripts, rare books, prints and drawings, paintings, and decorative arts including silver, porcelain, glass, tapestries, enamels, ivories and bronzes.”
The exhibition “unites more than 100 of these rare objects to illuminate Morgan's pursuit of global culture, commemorating his collecting achievements and probing an exploration of his motivations, buying decisions, and impact on the evolution of art collecting and museums in America.”
According to the Atheneum — the oldest continuously operating public art museum in the United States — the Morgan family has been instrumental in the museum’s growth and development over the decades.
“The founder of a banking dynasty still in operation today, J. Pierpont Morgan was one of the great financial figures of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Well known for his business success, he was also an important philanthropist and became an avid art collector following the death of his father, Junius Spencer Morgan (1813-1890). ... His family was the third generation to support the Wadsworth Atheneum — his grandfather Joseph was one of the museum’s founders.
“In 1889 Pierpont and his father contributed a combined $150,000 to the museum, and following Junius' death in 1890 Pierpont commissioned and funded the $1,400,000 Morgan Memorial in his father’s honor, more than doubling the museum’s size. Pierpont’s ultimate gift to the Wadsworth Atheneum came in 1917, when, in accordance with his father's will, Jack Morgan dispersed more than 1,350 objects from Pierpont’s collection to the Wadsworth Atheneum ‘for the instruction and pleasure’ of the public. The transformative gift formed the core of the museum's European decorative arts collection.”
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 600 Main St. Hartford. Wednesday-Friday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $15-$5, with discounts for members, students and seniors. 860-278-2670.