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Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts to build works on paper gallery

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) announced plans to build a new Works on Paper Gallery in the Furness-designed Historic Landmark Building, thanks to a grant of $250,000 from The Richard C. von Hess Foundation, one of the institution’s most loyal and generous benefactors.

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Over 9,500 of the artworks in PAFA’s permanent collection (over 75% the total collection) are works on paper. The Gallery will significantly expand public access to the vast trove of PAFA’s works on paper collection, and will afford the necessary environment for the safe display of these light-sensitive works.

The Gallery will be accessed through a doorway at the first landing of the Grand Stairhall, and will feature an adjacent space where scholars will be able to view works for research purposes, and where curators and faculty will be able to teach from this remarkable collection. The Gallery will also provide a dedicated space to display loaned works on paper.

PAFA’s works on paper collection features drawings, watercolors, sketchbooks, and prints in traditional and experimental media from all periods in American art, as well as photographs, including a collection of Thomas Eakins photography. Further highlights include a large number of studies for major artworks in PAFA’s collection, including Benjamin West’s Penn’s Treaty with the Indians (1771-72), and John Vanderlyn’s Ariadne Asleep on the Island of Naxos (1809-14), as well as numerous sketchbooks and studies for works by artists such as Thomas Eakins, Thomas Anshutz, Cecilia Beaux, William Glackens, and others associated directly with the history of PAFA. These and other examples provide invaluable insight into the working methods of each artist and into artistic practices of their time.

PAFA’s collection features a great number of cast and life drawings by 19th century instructors that provide researchers with a wealth of material evidence into the development of history and figure painting in the U.S. The collection also contains masterpieces of drawing by John Singleton Copley, Mary Cassatt, Grant Wood, and Alfred Leslie, in addition to over two dozen painting studies by Arthur Dove, collages by Robert Motherwell, and an exceptional collection of light-sensitive miniatures.

In recent years, the collection has been enriched by four major collection donations that expand the Museum’s works on paper holdings: more than 110 watercolors by William Trost Richards, the Sue Coe Archive, the Vogel Collection (including works by Richard Tuttle), and the Linda Lee Alter Collection of Art by Women (works on paper constitute approximately 70%) that includes works by Alice Neel, Edna Andrade, and Louise Nevelson.

PAFA has engaged the architectural firm Atkin Olshin Schade to design the Works on Paper Gallery. Construction will commence in early 2013, and completion is anticipated by summer 2013. –