Princeton University Art Museum Organizes Exhibition of Modern Masterpieces from the Pearlman Foundation

PRINCETON, NJ – Works from the renowned collection of Henry Pearlman, the art collector with a taste for experimental works by Paul Cézanne and other Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists, will be presented at two venues in 2023–24 as part of an exhibition organized by the Princeton University Art Museum in collaboration with the Henry and Rose Pearlman Foundation. The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

Highlighting the dynamic and increasingly international artistic crossroads of Paris during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Artists in Motion: Modern Masterpieces from the Pearlman Collection presents approximately forty paintings, sculptures, and works on paper by artists such as Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Édouard Manet, Amedeo Modigliani, Chaïm Soutine, and Vincent van Gogh.

In the late nineteenth century, a group of artists working in and around Paris sought to break away from established academic conventions. These artists explored what it meant to paint the modern world, as seen in works such as Manet’s Young Woman in a Round Hat (ca. 1877–79), Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Messalina (1900–1901), and Van Gogh’s celebrated Tarascon Stagecoach (1888). Other exhibited paintings, including examples by Edgar Degas, Gauguin, and Camille Pissarro, exemplify these artists’ experiments with painterly techniques that emphasized personal and subjective experiences. Also featured is a significant selection of works by Cézanne, including a rare vertical view of one of his favorite subjects, Mont Sainte-Victoire, and several watercolors and drawings made between 1870 and 1906, the year of the artist’s death, that demonstrate his sustained engagement with these mediums.

Paris experienced a remarkable influx of foreign artists in the early twentieth century, and Pearlman, who was born in 1895 on New York’s Lower East Side to Russian Jewish immigrants, was especially drawn to their work. Pearlman acquired a significant group of works by these artists, among them Jacques Lipchitz, Modigliani, and Soutine—all Jewish artists who migrated to Paris and whose travels and emigration stimulated creative exchange and innovation. Exhibited works include bronze sculptures by Lipchitz, a sculpted stone head and two painted portraits by Modigliani, and landscapes, portraits, and a still life by Soutine.

Pearlman likened collecting to an adventure, and he was fascinated by both the art and the lived experiences of the artists he collected. He frequently visited the sites where works he acquired had been made, and he described sitting for portraits by Oskar Kokoschka and Lipchitz as “exhilarating experiences.” After a fire destroyed Lipchitz’s New York studio, Pearlman helped fund a new studio and commissioned a bronze portrait bust of himself from the artist. The resulting work, finished in 1952, is included in the exhibition.

The exhibition will premiere at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (under the title Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Pearlman Foundation), where it will be on view from May 21 to September 17, 2023. It will then be presented at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida from October 14, 2023, to February 18, 2024.

It is accompanied by a free, richly illustrated digital catalogue exploring the Pearlman Collection through the themes of travel, migration, and creativity. It includes an introduction by Daniel Edelman, president of the Pearlman Foundation and Henry Pearlman’s grandson, that explores Henry’s collecting career and considers how Henry’s experience as the son and husband of immigrants may have drawn him to collect works by artists whose stories resonated with his own.

Seven additional essays by art historian and consulting curator Allison Unruh describe the journeys of the individual artists and investigate how their personal experiences of regional, national, and transnational migration shaped their artistic output. An interview with contemporary artist Zhang Hongtu provides a lens into his experience of travel and immigration and how it has shaped his own work and his appreciation for the artists in the Pearlman Collection. Also included are three original poems that speak to the themes of the exhibition. Designed by Miko McGinty, Inc., the digital publication features more than sixty supporting comparative illustrations as well as hyperlinks to images of additional works of art, three maps plotting the artists’ travels and movements, a checklist of the exhibition, and an appendix of additional works from the Pearlman Collection.

Exhibition Venues and Dates

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (under the title Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Pearlman Foundation)

May 21–September 17, 2023

Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida

October 14, 2023–February 18, 2024

About the Princeton University Art Museum

With a collecting history that extends back to 1755, the Princeton University Art Museum is one of the leading university art museums in the country, with collections that have grown to include more than 114,000 works of art ranging from ancient to contemporary art and spanning the globe. Committed to advancing Princeton’s teaching and research missions, the Art Museum also serves as a gateway to the University for visitors from around the world.

The main Museum building is currently closed for the construction of a bold and welcoming new building, designed by Sir David Adjaye and slated to open in spring 2025.

Art on Hulfish is open daily in downtown Princeton at 11 Hulfish Street. Art@Bainbridge, a gallery project of the Princeton University Art Museum, is open Tuesday through Sunday at 158 Nassau Street in downtown Princeton. Admission to both galleries is free.

Please visit the Museum’s website for digital access to the collections, a diverse portfolio of programs, and details on visiting our downtown galleries. The Museum Store in Palmer Square, located at 56 Nassau Street in downtown Princeton, is open daily, or shop online at  

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About the Henry and Rose Pearlman Foundation

Henry Pearlman (1895–1974), born and raised in New York City, lived in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Croton-on-Hudson, New York. Twenty-five years after establishing his cold storage business, and with World War II coming to an end, he purchased his first significant modern painting, a landscape by Chaïm Soutine. This triggered a passion for collecting that endured for the rest of his life. Over three decades, he educated himself about the lives, journeys, and intersections among the French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, and acquired important works by Cézanne, Degas, Manet, Matisse, Modigliani, Renoir, Soutine, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Van Gogh. Pearlman died in 1974, and the collection now belongs to a private foundation overseen by second-, third- and fourth-generation descendants of Henry and his wife, Rose, with a mission to broaden the public reach and deepen the personal experience of art while conserving the original works in its care for future audiences. The works included in the exhibition have been on loan from the Pearlman Foundation to the Princeton University Art Museum since 1976.