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Celebrating a Milestone: 75 Years of the National Gallery of Art and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, II: The Kress Collection at the Seattle Art Museum

Chiyo Ishikawa, Susan Brotman Deputy Director for Art and curator of European painting and sculpture, Seattle Art Museum. When the National Gallery of Art opened its doors in March 1941, the original Andrew W. Mellon gift was augmented by a collection of Italian art donated by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. Kress was the first to offer a donation in response to Andrew Mellon's call for contributions for the new national art museum. For the Gallery's opening, Kress gave almost 400 paintings and sculptures. Ultimately, the foundation gave the Gallery a total of over 700 paintings and sculptures, in addition to over 1,300 small bronzes, medals, and plaquettes. In 2010, the foundation awarded the Gallery a grant to conduct provenance research on the entire Kress collection of paintings, distributed nationwide to regional museums and study collections in university-affiliated institutions. In this lecture recorded on May 23, 2016, Chiyo Ishikawa shares how the Seattle Art Museum was a recipient of the Kress “giveaway.” Seattle’s position on the Pacific Rim made the Seattle Art Museum a natural home for Asian art, but the great European tradition was not represented. This changed thanks to the Kress gift, but the process was rocky and the collection was almost withdrawn before it became the foundation of a growing European collection. This program is supported by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation Provenance Research Project.