National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Joseph E. Widener Augustus John (artist)
Welsh, 1878 - 1961
Joseph E. Widener, 1921
oil on canvas
overall: 124.7 x 102.3 cm (49 1/8 x 40 1/4 in.) framed: 157.2 x 134.6 x 10.7 cm (61 7/8 x 53 x 4 3/16 in.)
Widener Collection
1942.9.100
On View
From the Tour: Founding Benefactors of the National Gallery of Art
Object 5 of 9

After the death of his father, Peter, in 1915, Joseph Early Widener (1872-1943) permitted visitors to view the family collection in their mansion outside Philadelphia. Joseph not only added appreciably to the collection, but also enhanced its quality by culling works of secondary importance. Andrew Mellon had discussed the possibility of a national museum with Joseph Widener, who offered in 1939 to donate his family collection to the Gallery in memory of his father. The Widener gift was announced by President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the Gallery's opening ceremony, along with the donation from the Kress Foundation. By 1942, only a year and a half after the museum's inauguration, the Wideners' works were installed in the Gallery.

The Welsh artist Augustus Edwin John used an expressionist style that enlivens Joseph Widener's portrait with a flickering, abstracted setting.

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