The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts has acquired 130 works for its permanent collection, including nearly 80 paintings and prints by largely African American artists from the collection of former Philadelphia school superintendent Constance E. Clayton.
In addition to the Clayton collection, which was announced earlier this month and includes pieces by Henry O. Tanner, Romare Bearden, Barkley L. Hendricks, Dox Thrash, and many others, PAFA officials said this week they had received a donation from another benefactor, George Hitchcock’s The Annunciation.
The work, completed around the turn of the 19th century, had been on long-term loan to the academy. The Annunciation appeared in the academy’s annual exhibition in 1909.
“We’re thrilled that it’s been actually donated,” said Brooke Davis Anderson, director of the PAFA museum. “It’s an outright gift.” Anderson said the donors wished to be known simply as “the Ball Family.”
Anna O. Marley, the academy’s curator of historical American art, characterized Hitchcock, who died in 1913, as "one of the most cosmopolitan and highly regarded artists of his age.”
“I’m particularly happy to welcome this painting back to PAFA more than 100 years after it was last exhibited and to hang it in the same gallery it was hung in 1909," she said.
PAFA also received a donation of a cache of works by William J. Glackens, including his palette and a sketchbook that shows the evolution of Glackens’ thinking while painting The Soda Fountain, from 1935.
“I’m delighted to add this sketchbook by Glackens for his important painting in our collection, The Soda Fountain,” Marley said. “It reveals the artist’s working process in a way that will be fascinating for both the public and our students.”
Highlights in the latest group of gifts and purchases include an untitled drawing on both sides of paper by the self-taught artist James Castle and a large-scale work on paper by artist Judy Pfaff.
Cardigan Worn by Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp Activist as She Left Holloway Prison, Charged with Social Disruption for the Second Time in Two Months, Winter 1983, (2009) by Ellen Lesperance was also acquired.
A large collage painting by Kenyan-born, Brooklyn-based Wangechi Mutu — If we live through it, She’ll carry us back, completed in 2014 — has also joined the PAFA collection. Mutu has recently been tapped to create a work for the facade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the first work the museum has ever sited there.
PAFA’s curator of contemporary art, Jodi Throckmorton, said she was “especially pleased” by the Mutu acquisition, which she characterized as “an important work” by an artist "whose work challenges and expands our collection in myriad ways.”
PAFA also purchased four Charles Gaines prints and two prints by Samuel Levi Jones. The prints were published by Paulson Fontaine Press.
Other notable acquisitions include works by Michael Light, Judith Linhares, and John & Richanda Rhoden; also two gelatin silver prints and 11 archival inkjet prints from the Women’s Mobile Museum portfolio, the result of Zanele Muholi’s residency and collaboration with 11 Philadelphia-based female artists.