Chase William Merritt: A Memory In the Italian Villa
William Merritt Chase, "A Memory: In the Italian Villa," 1910; Oil on canvas; Thomas H. and Diane DeMell Jacobsen Ph.D Foundation

Main Galleries

American Made: Paintings and Sculpture from the DeMell Jacobsen Collection

Jan 29, 2023 - Apr 16, 2023

Presented by: Joe Orgill Family Fund for Exhibitions

Organized by: The Mint Museum

Sunday, January 29, 2:00pm
Opening Presentation by Diane DeMell Jacobsen, PhD

As a child, Diane DeMell Jacobsen, PhD, was enthralled by the masterpieces of American art that she saw on visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with her mother and sisters. Who might have predicted then that a work from her own collection of American art would one day be installed at the Met? Yet, over the past three decades, Dr. Jacobsen has carefully amassed one of the premier collections of American art in private hands. All the while, she has been supremely generous with her treasures, sharing them with the public through long-term loans to forty public institutions, including the Dixon, the Met, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, among many others. For the first time, a majority of the works in her collection will be on view alongside one another for American Made: Paintings and Sculpture from the DeMell Jacobsen Collection.

In 2011, Dr. Jacobsen founded the Thomas H. and Diane DeMell Jacobsen PhD Foundation, an organization whose mission is to obtain masterpieces of American art and conduct scholarly research on these works. This includes analysis undertaken by conservators and experts in period frames to better understand how the objects were made and how they have been displayed over time. Through the combination of careful art historical research and the long-term installation of her collection at museums throughout the United States, Dr. Jacobsen has helped to educate the public about American art. These efforts have resulted in a comprehensive catalogue of the collection, published to coincide with the exhibition, with contributions from scholars and curators of American art including Kevin Sharp.

American Made includes more than 100 works from the DeMell Jacobsen Collection, spanning 250 years of American history, and provides a survey of art produced in the United States from the Colonial Era through the twentieth century. The moral imperative of American art, and the desire for American artists to support the growth and progress of the nation is a recurring narrative throughout the exhibition. Organized into eight thematic sections, the exhibition explores American art from several perspectives, including galleries considering work made by Americans abroad and the emergence of modern art in the United States, as well as investigations of portraiture, still life, and landscape – genres that are strengths of the collection.

American Made explores important sub-genres within these larger genre-based sections that exemplify the range to be found in these types of paintings and help to elevate often overlooked subject matter. Within the group of early-American portraits are several examples of artist self-portraits, including work by Eastman Johnson. The still life gallery includes several examples of trompe l’oeil painting – French for “fool the eye.” These hyper-realistic works by William Michael Harnett, John Peto, and others depict everyday objects with such extreme precision that they often seemed to enter into the viewer’s space, occasionally tricking observers into believing these renderings were the real thing.

Represented artists include pivotal figures such as Benjamin West, Thomas Cole, John Singer Sargent, and Mary Cassatt. In addition to these familiar names, who have long been a fixture in studies of American art, Dr. Jacobsen has collected works by women and artists of color, helping to expand the narrative conveyed in museum galleries. American Made provides an opportunity to introduce work by Adelaide Colburne Palmer, Suzy Frelinghuysen, Allan Rohan Crite, and other artists whose work is prime for renewed attention. The collection also highlights the diverse communities of American artists through its consideration of both self-taught makers and those who trained at fine art academies both domestically and abroad. In addition to communities formed around school and expatiate groups, a section of the exhibition looks at the emergence of art colonies, especially those active in summer destinations such as Provincetown, Massachusetts. The diverse range of painting and sculpture included in the DeMell Jacobsen collection provides visitors with a chance to reconsider the long arc of American art history.

American Made was curated by Todd Herman, PhD, President and CEO of The Mint Museum; Kevin Sharp, Director of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens; and Jonathan Stuhlman, PhD, Senior Curator of American Art at The Mint Museum; with contributions by William Keyse Rudolph, PhD, Deputy Director, Curatorial Affairs at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Sponsored by: Obsidian Public Relations | Opus East Memphis | Karen and Preston Dorsett | Theodore W. and Betty J. Eckels Foundation | Andrea and Doug Edwards | Amanda and Nick Goetze | Anne and Mike Keeney | Nancy and Steve Morrow | Gwen and Penn Owen | Chris and Dan Richards | Trish and Carl Ring | Adele Wellford

The national tour of American Made is made possible by Bonhams, Christie’s, Doyle, Heather James Fine Art, Schoelkopf Gallery, and Sotheby’s.