Press Release

More Than 100 Artworks Added to PAFA’s Permanent Collection at Recent Collections Committee Meeting

PHILADELPHIA (July 10, 2019)--The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) has announced the addition of 111 historic, modern, and contemporary works to its permanent collection of American art, including one of the earliest painted views of the Schuylkill River, which is part of a new PAFA exhibition that opened on June 28, 2019.

The newest acquisitions and gifts include Schuylkill Below the Falls, a painting of the Schuylkill River by London-born artist George Beck (1749–1812)—one of the earliest professional landscape painters working in the U.S.—completed during his time in Philadelphia. Dated circa 1798, the watercolor was painted around the same time Beck received his commission from George Washington to paint scenes of the Potomac for his home at Mount Vernon.

“This is an incredibly rare watercolor by Beck,” said Dr. Anna O. Marley, Curator of Historical American Art. “Works by this artist rarely come onto the market. It’s also the first painting by George Beck to enter our collection, even though he lived and exhibited here in the 1790s.”

Schuylkill Below the Falls is an essential addition to Dr. Marley’s latest exhibition, From the Schuylkill to the Hudson: Landscapes of the Early American Republic, on view at PAFA through December 29, 2019.

Other highlights in the latest group of gifts and purchases include eighteen sculptures from the estate of John Rhoden (1916–2001). These sculptures join the seven that are currently on view in the Rhoden Arts Center auditorium, bringing the total number of Rhoden works in the permanent collection to 25, in addition to three prints by John and his wife, Richanda Phillips Rhoden, which were on display at PAFA in February to coincide with the public opening of the Rhoden Arts Center.

“I’m proud of the balance we struck with this overall body of work,” said Dr. Brittany Webb, curator of the John Rhoden Collection at PAFA. “We have some of his (Rhoden’s) most visually striking pieces. His work includes monuments, explorations of history and spirituality, animals, figuration and abstraction, and is influenced by his life in New York, and travels throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia. All of that is represented in this suite of work for the permanent collection.”

Other highlights among the acquisitions include:

  • A work by Philadelphia artist Kukili Velarde (b. 1962), Daddy Likee? (2018) consisting of acrylic, ink, and graphite on Amazonian Canvas, currently on view in the PAFA exhibition Eye Contact through September 15, 2019. In this self-portrait, Velarde uses Inca textile designs and western art history’s archetype of the female nude—a tradition that reduces women to objects of beauty for male heterosexual pleasure—to present complex contradictions between race, gender, sexuality, and power.
  • A donation of 17 artworks by artist Helen Frankenthaler (1928–2011) from the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation. The gifts—spanning etching, lithography, monoprint, screenprint, woodcut, and other techniques—reflect the variety of media that Frankenthaler used in her work and encompass five decades of her illustrious career.
  • Thirty-five prints produced by the Brandywine Workshop—one of the leading printmaking workshops in Philadelphia—established in 1972 by founder and director Allan Edmunds and gifted to PAFA by Winston and Carolyn Lowe.
  • Nine photographs by New York City-born photographer Aaron Siskind (1903–1991), donated by Joan and George Violin, and 13 photographs by Massachusetts-born artist James Van Der Zee (1886–1983), known for his portraits and for producing a visual record of the Harlem Renaissance.
  • A plaster relief sculpture of Walt Whitman (c.1887) by artist Charles Grafly (1862–1929). It was completed the year before he traveled to Paris, just after he left PAFA to follow Thomas Eakins upon Eakins’ dismissal from PAFA. PAFA currently owns 21 works by Grafly, most of which are bronzes. This will be the first relief sculpture by Grafly to enter the collection.

“Our recent Collections Committee meeting was so exciting—not only did we add artworks into our permanent collection spanning three centuries but we also celebrated several partnership—with The Print Center and the Brandywine Workshop—each intended to deepen our holdings of works on paper,” said Brooke Davis Anderson, Edna S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum. “Additionally, the generosity of our patrons strengthens our collection of works by Helen Frankenthaler and many twentieth-century African American artists who were in active collaboration with Allan Edmunds.”

Growing and diversifying its permanent collection through gifts and purchases is a key focus of PAFA's mission. The purchases are made through collections endowments and dedicated collections funds, as well as gifts from PAFA patrons.

About PAFA

Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is America's first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, PAFA offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the fine arts, innovative exhibitions of historic and contemporary American art, and a world-class collection of American art. PAFA’s esteemed alumni include Mary Cassatt, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, William Glackens, Barkley L. Hendricks, Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.