A Chester County Art Critic (Portrait of Christian Brinton)
Horace Pippin, American, 1888 - 1946
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Christian Brinton, 1870–1942 “Circumstance rather than conscious plan” is how art critic, author, and exhibition impresario Christian Brinton collected art. As explained in the November 1941 issue of the Museum’s Bulletin, Brinton’s personal association with “artists of many lands” had more to do with his acquisitions than an interest in any particular school of art or aesthetic formula. Through these associations, Brinton championed the art of his day, promoting works from geographic areas often outside traditional Western European schools. His collection, which he gave to the Museum in the fall of 1941, includes more than six hundred objects, primarily representing the art of Russia, Scandinavia, Central and Eastern Europe, and Spain. It comprises paintings, works on paper, sculpture, textiles, and stage and costume designs for the Ballets Russes, as well as toys, crafts, and a library of more than 1,200 volumes. Brinton’s collection also reflects his promotion of contemporary American artists, among them African American painter Horace Pippin. (Pippin was from Chester County, Pennsylvania, where Brinton and his family had lived for seven generations.) In 1937, Brinton arranged for Pippin’s exhibition debut at the local West Chester Community Center. The next year, the artist exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Two years later, Pippin painted Brinton’s portrait, shown here. While Brinton regularly invited members of the art world to his home to view the collection he acquired over a twenty-year period, he gifted it to the Museum “so that I can see people enjoying it while I live.” The Museum presented the collection in an exhibition that opened November 1, 1941. Brinton died less than seven months after it closed.