The Lunder Collection is unveiled at the Colby College Museum of Art

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff Art

On July 13, the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine, reopens, unveiling its nationally-acclaimed collection of more than 8,000 works of art. The addition of the Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion, a sparkling glass structure designed by Frederick Fisher and Partners Architects, on the quintessential New England college campus, will display the impressive inaugural exhibition, The Lunder Collection: A Gift of Art to Colby College. The collection, on view through June 8, 2014, features the more than 500 pieces of art donated by Colby alumni Peter Lunder ‘56 and Paula Lunder covering works from nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first-century American artists, including James McNeill Whistler, Winslow Homer, Georgia O’Keeffe, Donald Judd, and Louise Nevelson. In addition, the exhibition will reflect on important thematic elements within the collection that serve as historical place-markers, such as representations of American mythology and American interpretations of European styles. Audio recordings will provide visitors with samples of literature, poetry, and music appropriate to each period.

  • Fig. 1. Neoclassical sculpture was one of Peter and Paula Lunder’s first collecting interests. Undine by Joseph Mozier (1812-1870), a marble of 1866, dominates this view of “The Seasons” gallery. The central painting is Spirit of Autumn by George Inness (1825-1894), 1891.

  • Fig. 2. Fishing by Winslow Homer (1836-1910), 1878. Signed and dated “HOMER 1878” at lower right. Watercolor and gouache on paper, 7 by 8 ½ inches. In this ode to boyhood, Homer, one of the collectors’ favorite artists, uses opaque pigment to heighten the sensation of sunshine. 

  • Fig. 3. The opening of the Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion, a mixed-use space designed by Los Angeles architect Frederick Fisher, marks the transfer of the Lunder art collection to Colby College. Wall Drawing #559, a three-story conceptual work by Sol Lewitt (1928-2007), 1988, redrawn in 2013, is visible through the glass. At the right is the Lunder Wing, completed in 1999. Rendering courtesy of Frederick Fisher and Partners Architects. 

  • Fig. 5. Red Jacket A Distinguished Seneca Chief by Charles Bird King (1785-1862), 1833. Oil on wood, 17 ⅝ by 12 ¾ inches. This is one of three depictions of great American orators commissioned by J. B. Dunlop, a Scot, in 1833. The Lunders acquired the paintings, which remained in a Scottish castle for 166 years and are still in their original frames, in 2002. The chief wears the silver peace medal (now in the Buffalo History Museum) given to him by George Washington. 

  • Fig. 6. Agathon to Erosanthe (Votive Wreath) by John La Farge (1835-1910), 1861. Inscribed “Erosanthe Kale” (Erosanthe is beautiful) and “I.L.F MDCCCLXI” at lower center. Oil on canvas, 23 by 13 inches. La Farge’s floral still life has been variously interpreted as a tribute to his new wife and a memorial to war. The Greek inscription refers to Plato’s Symposium

  • Fig. 8. View of Mt. Katahdin from the West Bank of the Penobscot River by Virgil Williams (1830-1866), 1870. Signed and dated “V. Williams 1870” at lower right. Oil on canvas, 26 ¼ by 40 inches. 

  • Fig. 9. The sculptures are Dancer and Gazelles, a bronze by Paul Manship (1885-1966), 1916; and Mozier’s Undine. Left to right on the walls are Inness’s Spirit of Autumn; two versions of Evening on the Beach by Homer, a drawing of 1871 and an oil of c. 1871-1878; Gifford’s The Marshes of the Hudson, 1878; Pittsburgh, Winter, a charcoal by Joseph Stella (1877-1946), 1908; and, at the far right, Inness’s Summer Evening, Montclair, New Jersey, 1892

  • Fig. 10. East Boothbay Harbor, Maine by Willard Leroy Metcalf (1858-1925), 1904. Signed and dated “W.L. Metcalf, 04” at lower right. Oil on canvas, 26 by 29 inches. This impressionist landscape is among a handful of Maine views in the Lunder Collection. 

  • Fig. 11. View from Olana in the Snow by Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900), c. 1871. Oil on paper, 13 ½ by 21 ¼ inches. This study was painted about six months after Church began construction at Olana, his house on the Hudson. It is the largest and most dramatic of his twenty surviving winter scenes, none of which seems to have been publicly exhibited or sold.

  • Fig. 14. Chelsea in Ice by Whistler, 1864. Oil on canvas, 17 ¾ by 24 inches. The painting is from a series of impressionistic renderings of the Thames River that the artist created after he settled in London. 

  • Fig. 15. The Lunder gift includes 211 paintings, drawings, and prints by James McNeill Whistler. Seen in this view of a gallery devoted to his work are views of London, including Chelsea in Ice (Fig. 14) and, on the right three Venetian views: The Red Doorway, an 1880 pastel; Calle San Trovaso, a chalk and pencil drawing of c. 1879-1880; and the etching and drypoint The Doorway, 1879-1880. The collectors also founded the Lunder Consortium for Whistler Studies, a partnership among the Colby College Museum of Art, the Freer and Sackler galleries, and the University of Glasgow. 

  • Fig. 16. Tripod (dui), Chinese, Early Warring States period, 475-4221 B.C.E. Bronze; height 5 ⅛, diameter 6 ¾ inches. “The Lunders recognized that this was an opportunity to provide Colby with material that would further knowledge of Asia,” says art dealer Thomas Colville, who worked with the collectors to develop the Lunder-Colville Chinese Art Collection at Colby. 

  • Fig. 17. Buffalo Hunt with Lances by Alfred Jacob Miller (1810-1874), 1858. Oil on canvas, 21 1/2 by 34 inches. The Maryland artist probably painted this picture for Baltimore collector William T. Walters in 1858. It is among the earliest depictions of the American west in the Lunders’ gift to Colby. 

  • Fig. 18. Pueblo Priestesses by Gerald Cassidy (1879-1934), c. 1930. Signed “Gerald Cassidy-” at lower left. Oil on canvas, 40 by 30 inches. Art of the American Southwest, particularly Taos school paintings, was one of the Lunders’ first collecting interests. “It is so profoundly elegant and powerful,” says Smithsonian American Art Museum director Elizabeth Broun, citing Pueblo Priestesses as one of her favorite works in the Lunder Collection. 

  • Fig. 20. Typewriter Eraser by Claes Oldenburg (1929-), 1977. Acrylic on aluminum, stainless steel and ferrocement; height 35, width 35, depth 28 inches. 

  •  Fig. 12. A centerpiece of this installation devoted to aestheticism is The Song of 1891 by Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938). The other paintings in this view are (from the left): The Pink Feather (The Brown Veil) by Joseph Rodefer DeCamp (1858-1923), 1908; Mount Monadnock, a watercolor by Abbott H. Thayer (1849-1921), c. 1887; Dewing’s pastel Standing Woman No. 202, c. 1926, and, at the far right Study in Grey for the Portrait of F.R. Leyland by James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), 1870-1873. The sculptures are Diana, a bronze by Frederick MacMonnies (1863-1937), 1890, and, at the far left, a bronze Head of Victory, 1904, by Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907). 

  • Fig. 19. City of Brass by Romare Bearden (1911-1988), 1965. Inscribed “Romare Bearden ‘City of Brass’/1965 357 Canal St.” on the reverse. Photostat and gouache on board mounted on panel, 29 by 40 inches. This figurative collage with African masks dates from the Civil Rights era, when Bearden opened his studio to fellow artists and activists Charles Alston, Norman Lewis, and Hale Woodruff. 

Six additional exhibitions will be on view in the Colby College Museum of Art beginning July 13:

Spaces and Places: Chinese Art from the Lunder-Colville Collection and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

“A Thing Alive”: Modern Views from the Marin Collections

Nowhere But Here: Art From the Alex Katz Foundation

Alex Katz: A Matter of Light

American Weathervanes from a Distinguished Maine Collection

Process & Place: Exploring the Design Evolution of the Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion

List of Events

Noon, July 13: Ribbon-cutting and dedication event to mark the official reopening of the Colby College Museum of Art and the unveiling of the Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion

Noon-5 p.m., July 14: Community Day, all activities are free and open to the public. No reservations required. Family-friendly Community Day features arts-and-crafts activities, live music, hourly museum tours, local food, and ice cream from Maine-based Stone Fox Creamery.

Normal hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Learn more and see images of the new gallery spaces in Laura Beach’s article “Maine Destination” published in our May 2013 issue.