The sketchbooks are also reminders of Glackens's key role in the history of American tastemaking. He was the first adviser to Albert C. Barnes, the Philadelphia chemist who became a millionaire early in the twentieth century and yearned to collect great art. Glackens and Barnes had gone to high school together, and when they renewed their friendship in 1911, Glackens sharpened Barnes's appreciation of modern French painting. The artist traveled to Paris on a buying trip for Barnes in 1912, and he returned with works by Renoir, Picasso, Pissarro, Maurice Denis, van Gogh, Cézanne, and Maurer. These purchases became the nucleus of Barnes's fabled collection of modern art, and Fort Lauderdale possesses a sketchbook and a small notebook listing the works of art Glackens saw and their prices. Barnes found Glackens indispensable to his aesthetic growth, writing, "The most valuable single educational factor to me has been my frequent association with a life-long friend who combines greatness as an artist with a big man's mind."6
To house the expanded collection and keep selections from it on permanent display, the Sansom Foundation funded a 10,000-square-foot addition to the FortLauderdale museum. Along with regular exhibition space, the Glackens Wing, which opened in 2001, contains a reconstruction of William and Edith Glackens's parlor in their Greenwich Village town house. The re-creation is based on photographs, various paintings that feature the interiors of their residences, and furnishings that Ira Glackens preserved. The room conveys a sense of peace, comfort, and cultivation. It seems in harmony with the disposition of the painter himself, who took such easy pleasure in the things around him.
I would like to thank Jorge Santis at the Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, for his readiness and patience in answering my many questions. I am also happy to acknowledge the contributions of Rachel Talent Ivers, the museum's registrar, and Emily Wood, curatorial associate, in locating images and research materials for me.
1See John Russell, "Art: When Glackens Illustrated for a Living," New York Times, August 13, 1982; and Robert Hughes, "Art: Charm, Yes; Inspiration, No," Time, August 18, 1980. 2 "Annual Tribute Paid to William Glackens," Art Digest, vol. 17, no. 4 (November 15, 1942), p. 11. 3 The author was a personal friend of Ira and Nancy Glackens from 1978 until 1990, and although Ira Glackens spent many hours supplying information and opinions about his father and his work to scholars, dealers, and museum personnel, he had numerous interests of his own to which he preferred to devote his time and attention. He did not want to be a "professional son" beyond what he had to be. 4 Jorge Santis to Avis Berman, e-mail, June 10, 2011. 5 Ibid. 6 Quoted in Richard J. Wattenmaker, American Paintings and Works on Paper in the Barnes Foundation (Yale University Press, New Haven, 2010), p. 66.
AVIS BERMAN has written extensively on the Eight and their peers. She is organizing a traveling exhibition of William Glackens's work that will open in 2014 at the Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale.