"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
Since the revelation of the first eight paintings that would be included in the Crystal Bridges collection in 2005 (see main article), nine more acquisitions have been made public. (The collection will include paintings, works on paper and three-dimensional art.)
The most recent acquisition to go public was Dennis Miller Bunker's 1887 “Portrait of Anne Page,” which went on exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum when it reopened the first week in May. The oil was sold at auction in December 2004 for $3.2 million, almost certainly to Alice Walton, though it's possible she bought it from that buyer. John Singer Sargent called Bunker, who died at the tender age of 29, the most gifted young American painter of his time.
In April, the museum announced it had bought Thomas Eakins' 1875 “Portrait of Professor Benjamin H. Rand,” and six 18th century portraits of the Levy-Franks family of New York City. Eakins is one of America's greatest painters; the portrait was bought from Jefferson Medical University in Philadelphia after Walton and the National Gallery of Art failed in their attempt to jointly by Eakins' famous “The Gross Clinic” for $68 million.
The Levy-Franks portraits are “the most extensive surviving group of Colonial American portraiture,” the museum said in its announcement. They are attributed to Gerardus Duyckinck and were bought from the Jewish Historical Society; the earliest portrait dates to 1720. They are now on exhibit at the Jewish Museum in New York. Bought privately, no purchase prices were available.
In 2006, the museum revealed its acquisition of Gilbert Stuart's venerable “George Washington” (the Constable-Hamilton portrait) by way of announcing its loan to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. Stuart, who painted all the famous people of his time, completed the portrait in 1790. Like “Kindred Spirits,” it was sold by the New York Public Library; Walton bought the 44-by-36-inch oil it at auction in 2005 for $8.1 million. “Kindred Spirits” is on exhibit at the National Gallery.
A painting she has not made public, but which is likely to be part of the collection — it appears in an architectural mock-up of one of the galleries on Crystal Bridges website — is Fairfield Porter's “October Interior,” painted in 1963 and so the most modern of the collection. Porter was a realist at the time Abstract Expressionism was taking center stage; the painting is the largest known so far in the collection at 4 feet 6 inches by 6 feet. The painting was bought for $988,000 at Sotheby's auction in December 2004 of the rich 19th and 20th century American art collection of Rita and Danial Fraad, one of the greatest in private hands. The website also shows what looks like an early Alexander Stirling Calder bronze.
Other works known to be in the collection — Charles Bird King's “Ottoe Half Chief, Husband of Eagle of Delight” (1821-22) and Winslow Homer's letter-sized “Spring” — were also sold at the auction, the King, an 18-by-14½ inch oil, for $1.35 million, a record for the artist at auction, and the Homer, an 11¼-by-8¾ watercolor on paper, for $2 million. King was born in Rhode Island and is best known for his paintings of Native Americans and other portraits. Homer is another of America's greats, his work in watercolor nearly unparalleled.
According to reports on the auction, the same bidder who bought “Ottoe Half Chief” also bought King's “Wai-Kee-Chai, Sanky Chief, Crouching Eagle,” for $792,000, so that should be in the Crystal Bridges collection as well.