A Passion for Collecting: Selections from the Richard M. Scaife Bequest

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In July 2014, we learned that the Museum would receive half of Richard M. Scaife’s art collection; the other half bequeathed to the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. Per Mr. Scaife’s wishes, the selection process was conducted in a round-robin format, much like a sports draft. At the conclusion of round one, a total of 71 works were acquired by each institution. The Westmoreland was also fortunate to receive five paintings by the self-taught Pittsburgh artist John Kane bequeathed directly to the museum by Mr. Scaife.

During his lifetime, Mr. Scaife enjoyed living with his collection at his two homes in southwestern Pennsylvania as well as his homes in California and Massachusetts where he was apt to collect the work of regional artists showing scenes from those locales. This was especially true in Nantucket where he surrounded himself with nautical subject matter by both historical and contemporary artists. A broader selection of American art could be found at his homes in Pittsburgh and Ligonier.

Mr. Scaife’s extraordinary gift fills significant gaps in the Museum’s holdings in the areas of Hudson River School painting, Boston school artists, American impressionism and marine painting. A stained glass window entitled Moon Over Clouds by John LaFarge will serve as a wonderful complement to the Museum’s Thomas Lynch Tiffany Window, allowing visitors to compare Tiffany’s and LaFarge’s stained glass techniques.

Paintings with Western Pennsylvania connections include An Interior View of Oak Manor painted in 1889 by American impressionist and realist William Merritt Chase during a visit to the Pittsburgh home of Mr. and Mrs. Porter; David Gilmour Blythe’s Prospecting/Bullcreek City that depicts both the detritus and environmental damage caused by the oil drilling boom near Oil City, PA and the potential of getting rich quick by investing in the industry; and a large view of the Laurel Ridge by contemporary artist Charles Fagan.