The donors below have shared their stories of how these works, included in the First Look exhibition, found their way to the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. They represent the extraordinary commitment that is shared by the many individuals whose gifts have transformed and continue to shape the Museum.
Ann M. and William B. Carey
This outstanding vase was decorated by Hugh C. Robertson, a pioneer of American art pottery, at Dedham Pottery in Massachusetts between 1896 and 1908. The vase came to the Museum as a gift from Dr. William Carey, grandson of Arthur Astor Carey (1857-1923), and his wife, Ann. A founder of Boston's Society of Arts and Crafts, Arthur Astor Carey served as president of Dedham Pottery in 1896, and helped finance the company. After admiring the vase for many years in his grandfather's summer home in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Dr. Carey inherited it and enjoyed it in his home in Swarthmore. Dr. and Mrs. Carey decided to donate the vase, along with other pieces of Dedham tableware from their collection, knowing that they would delight Museum visitors for years to come.
Alexander Calder (1898-1976) is recognized as one of America’s most innovative modern artists. His work in metal jewelry is a form of his artistic output, however, that is less well known. The Museum held the first exhibition devoted exclusively to Calder jewelry in 2008. As a child, Jane Hilles came to personally know Calder as a friend and colleague of her mother, artist Jeannette Kilham Goldstone. This gilded silver bracelet came into Hilles’ possession through her mother, who purchased it and a few other pieces from him at the start of his career. “My mother wore the jewelry—wire bracelets and a pin—throughout my childhood, pairing them with simple black clothing that would showcase their remarkable artistry,” Hilles recalls. She vividly remembers her mother wearing the bracelet, now in the Museum’s American art collection, to a gathering at Calder’s home. A long-time Philadelphia area resident, Mrs. Hilles decided to share her personal treasures with the world, and determined that the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a world-class institution close by, was the ideal place to house and care for them for the delight and appreciation of scholars and visitors alike.
Janet D. Kardon
As a former director of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Janet D. Kardon considered Bill Viola a pioneer in video art and greatly admired his large scale projection and sound installations. Viola’s Silent Mountain is part of a series entitled The Passions, a group of intimate and silent works that represents a departure from Viola’s previous large-scale works. Ms. Kardon ultimately acquired Silent Mountain because due to its manageable size the work could be enjoyed in her home. In 2008, she gave the work to PMA in memory of her husband, Robert Kardon, a former Museum Trustee who served for more than 30 years.
Dr. Charles W. Nichols
A keen collector of German Stoneware with an eye for works in excellent condition and of particular historical interest, Dr. Charles W. Nichols acquired Monkey Bearing a Dish at New York’s Ceramic Fair, moved by this lively object’s innate charm and its demonstration of the relationship between German stonewares and the porcelain figures produced at Meissen in the same period. Dr. Nichols made a promised gift of this monkey, originally made to function as a decorative sand holder from a writing set, as part of a larger gift of nearly fifty stoneware works that formed the core of the Museum’s exhibition, The Art of German Stoneware, in 2012. The exhibition, made possible in large part by Dr. Nichols’ promised gifts of art, examined German stoneware from its origins to later revivals and celebrates its long-standing relationship with the city of Philadelphia.
An active and accomplished collector of late nineteenth-century silver, Beverly Wilson acquired this stylish tea caddy approximately 10 years ago along with an accompanying hot water kettle. Tea caddies are a specific interest of Ms. Wilson’s as are works depicting architectural scenes, so she found this piece and its intricate detailing and fine craftsmanship particularly intriguing. It was made between 1870 and 1888 by Peter Krider, one of the largest silver manufactories in Philadelphia during the second half of the nineteenth century. Ms. Wilson became a Museum Park House Guide in 2007, where she lends her extensive knowledge of American decorative arts to help visitors learn and enjoy the landmark homes. Her devotion to the houses prompted her to inquire whether the Museum might be interested in receiving any of her objects as gifts. She was pleased to find out that not only would several of her treasures be welcome additions to the collection, but they would fill a gap in the American silver holdings, which had long focused on earlier periods and styles.
Martina Schaap Yamin
Martina Schaap Yamin purchased this striking tall vase for her collection in 1977 from Long Island art dealer Paulette Schwartzman. It first caught Mrs. Yamin’s eye when she discovered it in a booklet that featured Gouda pottery. She had always admired Dutch painting of animals in landscapes, and when she saw this vase depicting grazing cows, styled after an 1880-1885 painting by Willem Roelofs, it immediately appealed to her. The vase is one of 45 pieces of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Dutch ceramics that Mrs. Yamin has given to the Museum over the past three years. A noted paper conservator, Mrs. Yamin grew up in Philadelphia, and in the 1960s and ‘70s worked at the Museum on the conservation of its drawing collection. Her interest in Dutch pottery and the strength of the Museum’s holdings in this area motivate her to continue collecting and contributing to the Museum.