Pearlman Collection Embarks on International Tour
Cézanne. Van Gogh. Modigliani. How did a relatively modest American entrepreneur named Henry Pearlman (1895–1974) amass such an astonishing collection of modern art—including perhaps the greatest collection of watercolors by Cézanne outside of France—while competing against the high rollers of his day? Through ingenuity, tenacity, and sheer luck. The result of Pearlman’s extraordinary vision—the Henry and Rose Pearlman Collection—will be on view in a major international traveling exhibition that showcases fifty modern masterworks from the late nineteenth through early twentieth centuries.
Cézanne and the Modern: Masterpieces of European Art from the Pearlman Collection, organized by the Princeton University Art Museum (where the collection has resided since 1976), debuts at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Oxford in England on March 13, 2014, with subsequent stops in France, Canada, and the U.S. before culminating in Princeton, its final venue. This is the first international tour of the collection since Henry Pearlman’s death.
Among the highlights of the exhibition are Paul Cézanne’s Mont Sainte-Victoire (ca. 1904-6), Vincent van Gogh’s Tarascon Stagecoach (1888), and Amedeo Modigliani’s portrait of Jean Cocteau (1916), as well as an exceptional suite of sixteen watercolors by Cézanne. Other artists represented in the exhibition are Gustave Courbet, Honoré Daumier, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Oskar Kokoschka, Wilhelm Lembruck, Jacques Lipchitz, Édouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Chaïm Soutine, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
The exhibition is co-curated by the Princeton University Art Museum’s Betsy Rosasco, Research Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, and Laura Giles, Heather and Paul G. Haaga Jr., Class of 1970, Curator of Prints and Drawings. A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition, with contributions by more than a dozen members of the extended Princeton University community. The relationship between Princeton University and the Pearlman collection is a special one: through an agreement with the Henry and Rose Pearlman Foundation, since 1976 the collection has been on long-term loan to the Princeton University Art Museum, where highlights are regularly on display and the collection is critical research and teaching tool.
Over three decades, Henry Pearlman assembled one of the finest collections of European art remaining in private hands. A lifelong New Yorker, Pearlman in 1919 founded the Eastern Cold Storage Company, which made important contributions to marine shipbuilding during World War II. He began seriously collecting avant-garde art in the 1940s with the purchase of a canvas by Chaïm Soutine, a Russian-born artist known for his bold use of color and the intensity of his brushwork. Pearlman quickly became interested in Amedeo Modigliani, another artist of the so-called School of Paris, and eventually began to collect works by some of the artists who influenced them, including Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Cézanne.
Pearlman may have lacked the resources of an H. O. Havemeyer or a Sterling Clark, but by assiduous dealing, building close relationships with a number of dealers in the U.S. and abroad, and befriending artists directly he was able to secure numerous paintings that today are deemed masterpieces. He relished the hunt for secreted masterworks and was fascinated by the networks of aesthetic influence and personal relationships among artists. Cézanne and the Modern pivots around Cézanne, whose works compose fully one half of the exhibition, and offers insights into the development of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism as well as the history of collecting avant-garde art in the United States.
A richly illustrated catalogue, published by the Princeton University Art Museum and distributed by Yale University Press, accompanies the exhibition and includes Henry Pearlman’s personal narrative “Reminiscences of a Collector,” compiled and edited by his grandson, Jeffrey Scheuer; a major essay by Rachael Z. DeLue, associate professor in the department of art and archaeology at Princeton University, which considers Pearlman’s collecting practices and milieu; a chronology of Pearlman’s life and the history of the collection; brief essays on each of the artists and their works in the exhibition by leading scholars in the field; and detailed information on each of the works, including the discoveries of new conservation and technical analyses undertaken specifically for the exhibition.
- Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Oxford, Oxford, England: March 13–June 22, 2014
- Musée Granet, Aix-en-Provence, France: July 11–October 5, 2014
- High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia: October 25, 2014–January 11, 2015
- Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada: February 7–May 18, 2015
- Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, New Jersey: September 12, 2015–January 3, 2016
Cézanne and the Modern: Masterpieces of European Art from the Pearlman Collection has been organized by the Princeton University Art Museum, in cooperation with the Henry and Rose Pearlman Foundation.