New Acquisition Highlights
Collecting lies at the heart of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s activities, advancing its mission to educate and delight new audiences, and to study and care for great works of art past and present. New acquisitions span centuries and the globe, building on existing strengths while also launching the Museum into new terrain.
The Paul Strand Collection
The Philadelphia Museum of Art has acquired, through several gifts and a purchase agreement with the Aperture Foundation, the core collection of photographs by Paul Strand, one of the preeminent photographers of the twentieth century. As a whole, this acquisition comprises more than 3,000 prints and lantern slides, including the finest examples of every image in the Archive. Joining the more than six hundred Strand photographs already in the Museum's collections, this acquisition makes the Philadelphia Museum of Art the world's most important repository for the study of his work.
Gallery 110, American Art, first floor
Yarrow Mamout, an African American Muslim who won his freedom from slavery, was reputedly 140 years old in 1819, when Charles Willson Peale painted this portrait for display in his Philadelphia Museum. Although Peale learned this was a miscalculation, the story of eighty-three-year-old Yarrow (c. 1736–1823), a native of the West African country of Guinea who was literate in Arabic, was still remarkable. As Peale noted, Yarrow was “comfortable in his Situation having Bank stock and [he] lives in his own house.”
A rare representation of ethnic and religious diversity in early America, and an outstanding example of Peale’s late naturalistic style, the picture is distinguished by the direct and sympathetic encounter between the artist and his subject and the skilled rendering of the details of physiognomy and age. Yarrow’s knit cap suggests a kufi, a hat traditionally worn by African Muslim men to assert their religion or African identity, but Peale artfully employs its yellow band to highlight his steady gaze with its glint of humor and wisdom.
Seventy-seven years old when he created this portrait, Peale was seeking a record of the personal traits that he believed supported a long life. In his writings and museum displays Peale celebrated making wise choices to maintain good health and a positive attitude, and he perceived Yarrow’s perseverance through his difficult life as a model of resourcefulness, industriousness, sobriety, and an unwillingness to become dispirited.