Published: September 14, 2015
BENTONVILLE, ARK. – Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has announced new acquisitions that add to the breadth of its collection, including James McNeill Whistler, “The Chelsea Girl,” 1884; Thomas Eakins, “Archbishop James Frederick Wood,” 1877; Alfredo Ramos Martínez, “Florida Mexicana,” 1936; Jeffrey Gibson, “What We Want, What We Need,” 2014; and Maya Lin, “Silver Upper White River,” 2015. These works will debut in the permanent collection galleries throughout the month of September.
“The Chelsea Girl is representative of Whistler’s mature painting style, featuring a single, monumental figure rendered in a limited color palette. Unlike other portraits Whistler painted of upper-class clients and friends, the subject of this portrait is a working-class girl. Whistler dignifies the girl with a defiant stance and pointed gaze and depicts her using a few vigorous brushstrokes. Although parts of the painting remain seemingly unfinished, it was celebrated by critics when it was exhibited in 1893.
Eakins’s life-size portrait depicts the first archbishop of Philadelphia, James Frederick Wood, who served as a leader of the Catholic Church from 1860 to his death in 1883. In this portrait, Wood is seated in a bishop’s throne, robed in violet vestments with his hands resting on an embroidered apron. Despite the sitter’s prominent position, Eakins humanized him with a kindly face, revealing both humility and stolid certainty.
“Florida Mexicana” by Martinez shows an indigenous Mexican woman offering a large bowl of vibrant flowers to an unknown recipient. Martinez balances sculptural form and decorative impulses to create an image that is at once modern and retrospective.
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