American Art, Baltimore Museum of Art

The BMA has one of the best collections of American art in the world, with works spanning from the colonial era to the late 20th century. The exhibit contains paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts. The museum has several works of art from the Baltimore area, including portraiture by Charles Willson Peale, Rembrandt Peale, and other members of the Peale family; silver from Baltimore’s prominent silver manufacturing company Samuel Kirk & Son; Baltimore album quilts; and painted furniture by John Finlay and Hugh Finlay of Baltimore.

The American painting collection at the museum ranges from 18th-century portraits and 19th-century landscape painting to American Impressionism and modernism, with works by artists John Singleton Copley, Thomas Sully, Thomas Eakins, John Singer Sargent, Childe Hassam, and Thomas Hart Benton. Notable canvases include A Wild Scene (1831–1832) by Thomas Cole, La Vachère (1888) by Theodore Robinson, and Pink Tulip (1926) by Georgia O’Keeffe. These are complemented by holdings of prints and drawings, as well as modern photographs from the Gallagher/Dalsheimer Collection. Artists represented include Imogen Cunningham, Man Ray, Paul Strand, and Alfred Stieglitz.

The BMA has a long record of collecting works by African-American artists. This began in 1939 with one of the first exhibitions of African-American art in the country. This collection has grown substantially in recent years with the addition of more than 50 historical and contemporary works. Joshua Johnson, Jacob Lawrence, Edmonia Lewis, Horace Pippin, and Henry Ossawa Tanner are included among the 19th- and 20th-century African-American artists.

The BMA’s holdings of American decorative arts include an extensive furniture collection that represents the major historic cabinetmaking centers of Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston. Many of these objects came from Dorothy McIlvain Scott, a generous Baltimore philanthropist and collector.

A gift in 1933 by Mrs. Miles White, Jr. of over 200 pieces of Maryland silver formed the nucleus of a silver collection that now embraces objects by leading 18th- and early 19th-century silversmiths in Annapolis and Baltimore, as well as examples of early English silver owned by Maryland families during the Federal era. Among them is the Annapolis Subscription Plate, made by Annapolis silver smith John Inch and the oldest surviving silver object made in Maryland. Later masterworks by artists from Louis Comfort Tiffany to Georg Jensen are also on view.

Other notable aspects of the decorative arts collection include a rare set of five clerestory windows and two mosaic-clad architectural columns that represent Tiffany’s contribution to 20th-century ornament. Period rooms from six historic Maryland houses, along with architectural elements from other historic buildings, illustrate town and country building styles from the 18th and 19th centuries, and a dozen miniature rooms made by Chicago miniaturist Eugene Kupjack invite scrutiny of a variety of decorative styles at close range.

This outstanding collection of American painting, sculpture, and decorative arts dates from the colonial era to the late 20th century. It includes important regional holdings from Maryland and Baltimore, outstanding examples of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s decorative works, and modern American masterpieces by Georgia O’Keeffe, Jacob Lawrence, Marsden Hartley, Joseph Stella, and many other acclaimed artists.

A spectacular presentation of the grand American Wing presents more than 800 paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts intertwined, revealing surprising connections and fascinating stories. Thematic displays explore the international character of American art and Baltimore’s position as a major center for art production and foreign trade from the late 18th century forward.

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A selection of 21st-century objects, such as Richard Lee’s Sinking and Burning (2005), a cabinet with reverse glass painting, also reveals unexpected links between historic and contemporary American art.

Baltimore Museum of Art
The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA), located in Baltimore, Maryland, United States, is an art museum that was founded in 1914. While founded with a single painting, today the BMA has over 95,000 works of art—including the largest public holding of works by Henri Matisse. Collection highlights include a selection of American and European painting, sculpture, and decorative arts; works by contemporary artists; significant artworks from China; Antioch mosaics, and a collection of art from Africa. The BMA’s galleries showcase examples from one of the nation’s collections of prints, drawings, and photographs and textiles from around the world.The museum also has a landscaped 2.7-acre sculpture garden. The museum encompasses a 210,000 sq. ft. building that was originally built in 1929, in the “Roman Temple” architectural style, under the design of famous American architect John Russell Pope. The museum is located between Charles Village, to the east, Remington, to the south, Hampden, to the west; and south of the Roland Park neighborhoods, immediately adjacent to the Homewood campus of Johns Hopkins University, though the museum is an independent institution that is not affiliated with the university.

The highlight of the museum is the Cone Collection, brought together by Baltimore sisters Dr. Claribel (1864–1929) and Etta Cone (1870–1949). Accomplished collectors, the sisters amassed a wealth of works by artists including Matisse, Picasso, Cézanne, Manet, Degas, Giambattista Pittoni, Gauguin, van Gogh, and Renoir, nearly all of which were donated to the museum. The museum is also the permanent home of the George A. Lucas collection of 18,000 works of French mid-nineteenth-century art, which has been acclaimed by the museum as a cultural “treasure” and “among the greatest single holdings of French art in the country.”

The BMA is currently led by Director Christopher Bedford, who was appointed in May 2016, after a year-long search. Prior to joining the BMA, Bedford led the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University in Massachusetts for four years. He helped the Rose Art Museum out of international controversy in 2009 when, during the economic recession, the museum proposed selling off their top-notch art collection to help with its struggling finances.

The Baltimore Museum of Art is home to an internationally renowned collection of 19th-century, modern, and contemporary art. Founded in 1914 with a single painting, the BMA today has 95,000 works of art—including the largest holding of works by Henri Matisse in the world.

The Museum has a long tradition of collecting the art of the day, beginning with the Cone Sisters, whose acquisitions from living artists lead the Museum’s commitment to contemporary art.

Since October 2006, the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Walters Art Museum (formerly Walters Art Gallery), have offered free general admission year-round as a result of grants given by Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and several foundations.