Monday, September 14, 2009

Small French Paintings

In 1969 Ailsa Mellon Bruce bequeathed to the National Gallery of Art her extensive collection of French impressionist and postimpressionist paintings. She considered their small size suitable for modestly scaled modern interiors, such as her apartment in Manhattan. When the East Building opened in 1978, a series of small galleries was devoted to exhibitions from her collection. Her brother, Paul Mellon (1907–1999), one of the Gallery's most generous benefactors, admired these "small galleries that enhance the paintings' intimacy and their human appeal" (Reflections in a Silver Spoon: A Memoir, by Paul Mellon, John Baskett (Contributor), 1992). Since the original Bruce gift, Mr. and Mrs. Mellon and other donors have added many French paintings of modest scale but high quality, a selection of which is normally on view at the Gallery.

No comments: