Master of delight: William J. Glackens at the Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale

      The bequest arrived in Fort Lauderdale in January 1991. It consisted of 204 photographs, memen­tos, paintings, drawings, and pieces of family furniture. Some of the more important works received were the oils Tugboat and Lighter (Fig. 11) and Sledding, Central Park (Fig. 2), and two tour-de-force drawings of New York street scenes that were assignments for magazine illustrations: Far from the Fresh Air Farm (Fig. 7) and Christmas Shoppers, Madison Square (Fig. 12). Included too were watercolors by Edith Glackens and paintings, drawings, watercolors, and prints by the couple's friends and contemporaries, including Sloan, Shinn, Luks, Ernest Lawson, Guy Pène du Bois, and Maurice and Charles Prendergast.

Despite Ira Glackens's generosity, hundreds of other works of art by his father remained the property of the Sansom Foundation, where they had been previously deposited. But Richard Hilker, who succeeded Ira Glackens as the foundation's president, thought that the gift to Fort Lauderdale should be enlarged and made even more significant. In 1992 Santis was charged with making the representation of Glackens as comprehen­sive as possible by selecting works from the foundation that would fill gaps in periods, mediums, and genres in Ira Glackens's bequest. Some of Santis's choices for early work were In the Luxembourg (Fig. 10), painted during the artist's first stay in Paris, and the subtle Portrait of Charles FitzGerald (Fig. 13), which bears the impress of Velázquez and Whistler. (FitzGerald, an art critic, would later become Glackens's brother-in-law.) In contrast, The Artist's Daughter in Chinese Costume (Fig. 6) shows Glackens's later preference for orchestrat­ing vivid colors and exotic patterns to create lush, tactile backgrounds for his figures. Another addition to the collection, Back of Nude (Fig. 8), with its green-toned flesh and compression of space, demonstrates his con­tinuing penchant for formal experiment. There are also a profusion of still-life images, such as Flowers on a Garden Chair (Fig. 9), because they were a recurrent theme in Glackens's later years. Other invaluable treasures in the Glackens trove are seventy-six sketchbooks that detail both the artist's acuteness in observing the human form and his habitual reconsideration of an idea (see Fig. 4) before reaching the solution that appeared on the finished canvas. Ultimately the Sansom Foundation more than doubled Ira Glackens's original gift, and the collection now numbers nearly five hundred pieces.

by Émile Jacques Ruhlmann (1879-1933), 1926. Macassar ebony, amaranth, and ivory. Metropolitan Museum of Art. By Cynthia Drayton

» View All