Mary Burrichter presents “Flower Arrangement Near the Seaside,” a painting by famed modernist Marc Chagall, to the audience at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum’s fundraiser on Sunday.
Four new pieces were unveiled for the crowd, including the Chagall and an 18th-century portrait.
by NATHANIEL NELSON
Four new works are making their way into the Minnesota Marine Art Museum’s (MMAM) collection — including a sketch owned by the Rockefeller family for generations, an 18th-century portrait of a naval captain, and a piece by famed modernist Marc Chagall. The works were unveiled at a fundraiser event on Sunday evening, attended by dozens of MMAM supporters and volunteers.
Chagall’s work “Flower Arrangement Near the Seaside,” made in 1959, was the star of the show; a work by a master at an emotional period of his life. According to John Driscoll, the head of the Driscoll Babcock Gallery in New York City, when Chagall’s wife and muse Bella Rosenfield died in 1944, Chagall was broken. Years later, his daughter Ida introduced him to Valentina Brodsky, who Chagall married shortly after.
“Flower Arrangement” was produced in 1959, only a year after the marriage, Driscoll explained, and as such is filled with emotion and color. A red Mediterranean landscape provides a background for an intimate portrayal of love, with a current of vines and flowers opening up a new chapter in Chagall’s life.
Driscoll explained that he had originally recommended finding an earlier Chagall piece for the collection, but after seeing “Flower Arrangement,” he changed his mind. “We found a picture which shows what was going on inside of him at that moment, which is always the best time to get an artist’s work,” he said, adding that the painting shows all of Chagall’s focus and feelings on a singular canvas. The work will be on immediate display in the MMAM’s Stephen and Barbara Slaggie Family Gallery of European Art.
MMAM Curator of Collections and Exhibitions Jon Swanson said the museum “welcomes a painting by Marc Chagall. Not only is it beautiful, colorful, and filled with many of the themes and motifs he repeats throughout his long career, Chagall’s influence on and inspiration for many other artists in the collection cannot be understated.”
The next two works are part of an upcoming exhibition titled “This is New York,” which will open on October 2. Charles Sheeler’s graphite drawing “View of Central Park” was made for Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, whose name is on the signature, and depicts the New York skyline and the park from her office. According to Driscoll, the work had been kept in the Rockefeller family for generations, passed from one person to the next, eventually finding a home hanging in David Rockefeller’s dressing room.
A commissioned piece by Len Tantillo titled “East River Waterfront, c. 1662” was also unveiled on Sunday, depicting the Hudson Bay during the Dutch colonial period, when New York City was founded by Dutch businessmen as an important trade hub for the New World. “It’s really a wonderful piece, and a great thing to add to the collection,” Driscoll said.
The fourth piece revealed on Sunday was a portrait of British naval commander Admiral George Brydges Rodney, painted by English artist Charles Gainesborough in 1782. Gainesborough is most well known for his master work “The Blue Boy,” which is currently on display at the Huntington Library in San Marino, Calif., and his extensive landscape and portrait work created throughout the late 1700s.“Charles Gainesborough was a prodigy. He was like Mozart,” Driscoll said. “He just taught himself to paint.”
According to MMAM Executive Director Nicole Chamberlain-Dupree, the Sheeler and Tantillo pieces will be on display starting on October 2, while the portrait of Lord Rodney will eventually make its way into the museum’s collection gallery. For more information, contact the Minnesota Marine Art Museum at 507-474-6626.