The Museum will be the recipient of a major donation of paintings from the collection of Julian and Josie Robertson of New York City. The paintings are four works by late 19th- and 20th-century European masters. In 2001 and again in 2008 we presented an exhibition of works from the Robertson’s collection. The star of both exhibitions was a striking portrait of a nude, pensive woman by Pablo Picasso (Seated Woman, Red and Yellow Background, 1952). That portrait of the artist’s soon-to-be ex-mistress Françoise Gilot will be coming to Raleigh, first as a loan for the Grand Opening of the new gallery building, and later as a gift.
Two other paintings in this promised donation feature similar river towns and an arching bridge, but they could not be more different. One by the Anglo-French Impressionist Alfred Sisley (The Bridge at Moret on an April Morning, 1888) is all sunny tranquility. In contrast, The Bridge at Poissy (1905) by Maurice de Vlaminck is stridently colored and agitated as though the artist had drunk five too many espressos. The fourth painting is a Wagnerian seascape by the German expressionist Emil Nolde (Fishing Boat [Red Sky]), painted in 1916 in the midst of World War I.
The Sisley joins our two Monets (The Seine at Giverny, Morning Mists and The Cliff, Etretat, Sunset) and one Pissarro in giving us a strong core collection of French Impressionists. The Nolde contributes a bold new subject to our group of German expressionist paintings. The Vlaminck leaps beyond Impressionism into the wilder territory of the Fauves where things are as strongly felt as they are seen. And the Picasso gives us our first Picasso. Enough said.
Together, these four paintings constitute one of the most significant gifts of art in our history. So, sound the trumpets!