J. Paul Getty Museum announces nearly 500 donations to photograph and painting collections

The J. Paul Getty Museum announced the generous gifts in 2008 of three outstanding 19th-century paintings and nearly 500 objects to the Department of Photographs. Individual donors who enhanced the Getty’s collection this year represent collectors from across the country, and include artists’ estates, members of the Getty’s Photographs Council, and other friends of the museum.

“We are extremely grateful to donors who chose the Getty Museum as the public institution to receive these gifts from their collection,” says Michael Brand, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “These generous donations have strengthened our holdings of Victorian paintings, photography from Mexico, and photojournalism, among others, as well as supporting new areas of collecting, such as contemporary Asian photography.”

This year, Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser continued their tradition of generous annual giving to the Getty, bolstering the museum’s already stellar holdings of Mexican photographers Manuel Alvarez Bravo (1902-2002) and Graciela Iturbide (b. 1942). In addition, Greenberg and Steinhauser donated a group of eight color photographs from 1995 by the artist and astute social critic Carrie Mae Weems (b. 1953). These pictures are part of a larger series, first commissioned by the Getty, which comments on the history of the visual representation of African Americans.

The Getty’s holdings of significant pictures in the field of photojournalism was further enhanced by Leo and Nina Pircher who, like Greenberg and Steinhauser, are members of the Museum’s Photographs Council. This year they contributed photographs, primarily from the 1930s and 1940s, by Alfred Eisenstaedt (1898-1995) and Esther Bubley (1921-1998). These two photographers were among the finest photojournalists working for Life and other picture magazines during the decades before television’s reign. The Pirchers’ gifts include exemplary images by both artists, and range across Eisenstaedt’s more than four decade career.

The first contemporary Chinese works of art entered the Getty’s collection in 2008–two photographs by Liu Zheng (b. 1969) from his recent Peking Opera series. These photographs were generously given by New Yorkers Dale and Doug Anderson, also members of the Council, who have begun to share their growing collection with the Getty.

In addition to these gifts, the Department of Photographs received an unusual offering of photographic equipment and cameras from Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Fishfader. Selected from a collection that they started in England in 1944, the more than 100 pieces span the entire history of the medium up to the 1980s and join just a few examples of equipment already in the Museum’s collection. The Fishfader cameras will be exhibited when appropriate as beautiful objects of design and as aids to explain the making of photographs that appear in future Getty exhibitions.

This summer, Fern and George Wachter, vice chairman of Sotheby’s and active member of the Getty’s Paintings Conservation Council, generously donated Mountain Landscape with Road to Naples by Rémond in honor of Scott Schaefer, senior curator of Paintings at the Getty Museum. This marvelous large oil sketch adds a work of significant scale and impact to the Getty’s burgeoning collection of late 18th- and early 19th- century landscape sketches. Although Rémond became widely known for monumental landscape painting, it is his landscape sketches of Italy – with their fresh, limpid light and fluid handling – that are most prized today. The painting will join landscape sketches by Bertin, Simon Denis, Jean-Joseph-Xavier Bidauld, and Camille Corot in the painting galleries in the museum’s West Pavilion.

Los Angeles-based collectors Norman and Barbara Namerow donated two Victorian paintings by Abraham Solomon, Waiting for the Verdict and Not Guilty (1859). Extremely successful during his lifetime but now largely forgotten, Abraham Solomon represented a major trend of Victorian painting with his contemporary-life genre pictures, which resonated powerfully with the popular taste for melodrama. These pictures are outstanding autograph replicas of his most famous paintings: the courtroom cliffhanger Waiting for the Verdict, exhibited in 1857, and Not Guilty, which broke the suspense two years later when it was shown in 1859. The pictures were enormously admired at the time for their portrayal of human emotion and widely disseminated through reproductive prints and the commissioning of no less than two sets of replicas. This set, which drew notice when it was exhibited in the 1862 International Exhibition in London, was commissioned by Charles Thomas Lucas, a prominent building contractor whose family firm was responsible for the Royal Albert Hall, among other important structures. The paintings are on view with the Getty’s collection of mid-late 19th-century British and French painting in the museum’s West Pavilion.

Click here to discuss this story and more in the AntiqueTrader.com message boards.