Exemplary American art on display in “Pursuit of Beauty: The May Family Collection” at the Dallas Museum …


Winslow Homer, The Sand Dune, 1871-1872, oil on canvas, The Collection of Eleanor and C. Thomas May, Jr.

Gertrude Fiske, Contemplation, before 1916, oil on canvas, The Collection of Eleanor and C. Thomas May, Jr.

The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) will present In pursuit of beauty: the May Family collection, an exhibition of the excellent collection of American art based in Dallas which was built over 60 years by Thomas and Eleanor May. In pursuit of beauty features 28 oil paintings, watercolors and sculptures from the 19th and 20th centuries on loan to the DMA, many of which today rank among the quintessential creations of major American artists. The works selected from the collection represent important historical and aesthetic highlights in American art history and are united by a harmonious visual sense of tranquility and beauty. In pursuit of beauty is visible from October 10, 2021 to January 9, 2022 and is included in the free general admission. The exhibition was curated by Sue Canterbury, The Pauline Gill Sullivan Curator of American Art.

“The Mays have been strong supporters of DMA since the 1980s and have forged a deep connection with the Museum. We are delighted to be able to present this rich selection of works from their exceptional collection, ”said Dr Agustín Arteaga, DMA Director Eugene McDermott. “This exhibit is a tribute to their enduring commitment to enhancing the presentation of American art at DMA and to sharing with our community the opportunity to experience the magnificence of works of art firsthand.”

With the first acquisition in 1961, Thomas May embarked on a business that spanned six decades. Mr. May was a former naval officer, and his decision to collect American art was influenced by an appreciation for his country’s history and culture. Mr. May was a trustee of the Museum for six years, from 1999 to 2005. He and Mrs. May have donated many works of art to the Museum over the years, including paintings, prints, drawings, watercolors and paintings. sculptures. In pursuit of beauty illustrates the Mays’ expand knowledge and aesthetic appreciation over decades of building and refining a collection.

Alfred Henry Maurer, Tabletop Still Life, 1913, oil on canvas, The Collection of Eleanor and C. Thomas May, Jr.

Dating from approximately 1871 to 1948, the 28 works in the exhibition cover a wide variety of styles and techniques across the United States, reflecting the artistic diversity of early America. Important artistic movements represented include Realism, American Impressionism, the Ashcan School, American Modernism, and the American scene, among others. Works on display include landscapes by Winslow Homer, George Inness and Chauncey F. Ryder; portraits of Cecilia Beaux and John Singer Sargent; and still lifes of Alfred Henry Maurer and Laura Coombs. by Sargent Sylvie harrison– created when the renowned artist rarely painted portraits for close friends – is a tour de force example of the qualities that made him one of the most sought-after portrait painters of the Golden and Edwardian Ages. The May collection exhibits particular strength among cosmopolitan artists who studied in Europe and New England, such as Theodore Robinson, William Merritt Chase, and Gertrude Fiske. The works of Beaux, Chase, Inness, Sargent, Edmund Tarbell and Charles Burchfield all wear their original frames, providing a unique opportunity to experience these paintings as their artists intended.

Theodore Robinson, Miss Motes and Her Dog Shep in a Boat, 1893, oil on canvas, The Collection of Eleanor and C. Thomas May, Jr.

“The Mays collection has an intimacy and a sense of contemplation that is extremely appealing, both visually and emotionally,” Canterbury said. “These artists captured tender and thoughtful moments of everyday life – whether spent at the beach or in comfortable interiors – which translate, with great beauty, a time when life and its rhythm seemed hectic.”


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