Middlebury College Museum of Art

Recent Acquisitions and Collection Highlights

Below you’ll find links to stories about recent additions to the Museum’s collection and featured collection objects.

Walter H. Williams, Jr., Untitled (Seated Man with Bowed Head)

January 6, 2020

This rare painting by African-American artist Walter H. Williams, Jr. from 1951 speaks to a sense of desperation while simultaneously offering glimmers of hope. Indeed, with the benefit of hindsight, we can read it as anticipating both the Civil Rights and Black Power movements of the succeeding decade.

Christian Cross with the Apostles

September 3, 2019

This apostles cross embodies the internationalism of Macau during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and demonstrates how craftsmen merged European and Chinese imagery to create new forms.

Recent Ancient Coin Acquisitions Focus on Alexander the Great

October 1, 2018

In the last year or so the Museum has continued to add high quality examples to its collection of ancient coins, and some of our most recent acquisitions have been related to Alexander the Great and the kingdom of Macedonia. Several highlights are presented here.

Elizabeth Catlett, Black is Beautiful

July 9, 2018

Elizabeth Catlett is among the most distinguished African American artists of the twentieth century, yet her work is somewhat less well known than her peers’ in part because she made the decision in 1947 to move permanently to Mexico. Both a print maker and a sculptor, she was repeatedly attracted to the themes of race and gender drawn or sculpted in a seductive blend of modernism and naturalism.

Kongo-Vili Power Figure

July 2, 2018

This past January the museum acquired through Sotheby’s an important nineteenth-century Kongo Power Figure, from the Loango region of west Africa (Republic of Congo and the Angolan enclave Cabinda) that borders the Kongo River. Standing just over twenty-four inches high and carved of wood, it is a type of figure that fulfilled a ritualistic role in Kongo communities.

Scylla about to Hurl a Rock

March 1, 2018

This small Etruscan bronze depicts Scylla, the mythical marine monster that is part female and part fantastic animal. Scylla features ferociously in Homer’s Odyssey, when she snatches six of Odysseus’ men from his ship and devours them.

Keith Haring, Silence Equals Death

November 20, 2017

Keith Haring was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988. In the last year of his life he worked to produce imagery surrounding the social activism of the AIDS crisis. Silence = Death is an adaptation of a poster made by a collective of the same name that would eventually become the defining image for ACT UP, an organization created to fight for visibility and an end to the AIDS crisis.

Jean-Léon Gérôme, Whirling Dervish

September 3, 2015

The French academic painter Jean-Léon Gérôme is best known for subjects derived from his travels in the Near East. With his meticulous, loving attention to detail, he created images of Turkey, Egypt, and Syria with a level of objectivity and precision unusual for his time. This work is a preparatory oil sketch for a larger painting he completed in 1899.

Edward Weston, North Shore, Point Lobos

February 2, 2015

In his final years, 1946–1958, Edward Weston chose to reside in California at a small, unincorporated community called Carmel Highlands. Weston took many photos here, including this one, of the unusual rock formations on the beautiful Northern California coastline.

Rembrandt van Rijn, The Angel Appearing to the Shepherds

July 15, 2013

In 1634 Rembrandt was busy filling commissions as Amsterdam’s most sought-after portraitist. He was also painting religious works that pushed the dramatic stylistic devices of Baroque artists like Caravaggio and Rubens to their theatrical limits. In this print, as in those paintings, the artist presents small figures in a vast, dark setting; he uses gesture to convey drama and spotlighting to focus the viewer’s attention upon it. Consistent with Rembrandt’s contemporary painting, as well, is a high degree of finish, which drew the praise of his contemporaries for its attention to detail, variety of poses, and accuracy of emotion.

Rokeghem Hours (Use of Rome), by the Masters of Raphael de Mercatellis

December 12, 2012

This recent acquisition, a richly illuminated late 15th–early 16th century manuscript called the Rokeghem Hours, is named for the family for whom is was originally made, the van Rokeghem, who owned lands outside of Bruges, in present-day Belgium. It was created for one of the members of that family—likely for one of the women—by a group of Bruges illuminators called the “Masters of Raphael de Mercatellis.”

Wings of a Triptych, by the Master of the St. Ursula Legend

November 29, 2011

These two panels, purchased at auction at Sotheby’s London, once served as the wings of a triptych, most likely commissioned by a private patron for personal devotion in a home. Circumstantial evidence suggests that the royal figure depicted in the right panel may well be a rare portrait of the English King Henry VI.

The Friends Raise a Glass to “The Empty Wineglass”

June 3, 2011

At their 40th Anniversary Gala in October, the Friends of the Art Museum were asked to consider three potential acquisitions for the Museum’s collection and to vote on which would stay. After an evening of food, drink, and dancing (and some heavy lobbying from various curators), the Friends chose to purchase Issack Koedijk’s The Empty Wineglass.

Head of a Wounded Amazon

April 7, 2011

At the 13th Annual Christian A. Johnson Symposium in the History of Art and Architecture, Elizabeth Hirsch '11 presented the findings of her thesis research on the museum's Head of a Wounded Amazon. Watch the video.

Matthew Harris Jouett's Portrait of George Washington

February 22, 2011

In honor of George Washington's birthday, we're reprinting an essay by David Meschutt that appeared in our 2002–2003 Annual Report. In his essay, Meschutt articulates why our portrait of George Washington, originally attributed to Gilbert Stuart, should be reattributed to Matthew Harris Jouett.