February 15, 2018

Portland Museum of Art receives 'significant' gift of Winslow Homer paintings

Courtesy / Portland Museum of Art
Courtesy / Portland Museum of Art
The gift from the Berger Collection Educational Trust in honor of the preservation of the Winslow Homer Studio includes the paintings “Returning from the Spring, 1874,” and “Young Farmers (Study for Weaning the Calf), 1873-1874.”

About the Berger Collection

The Berger Collection, which is housed at the Denver Art Museum, is a major private collection largely of British art, with a small but significant group of works by artists of other schools, including the French artist François Boucher and the American Winslow Homer. Though natives of Colorado, the late William M. B. Berger and his wife Bernadette Johnson Berger began amassing this collection in the mid-1990s out of their dual passion for British culture and for art's potential to educate. The Berger Collection Educational Trust was established to sponsor educational activities related to the Berger Collection, British art, and the people, culture, and history the works portray.

The Portland Museum of Art received a major gift of works by the 19th century painter Winslow Homer donated by the Berger Collection Educational Trust.

The Berger gift strengthens the Portland Museum of Art's position as one of the leading institutions in the world to experience the art and legacy of Winslow Homer (1836-1910). In addition to owning a significant collection of Homer's works — including the 1894 masterpiece "Weatherbeaten" depicting waves crashing against the rocky shore of Prouts Neck — the museum owns and operates the Winslow Homer Studio at Prouts Neck where the artist lived from 1884 until his death in 1910.

"I am honored and deeply grateful to the Berger Trust for holding the PMA in such esteem," said Mark H.C. Bessire, the Judy and Leonard Lauder Director of the Portland Museum of Art. "The Berger Trust held a thorough selection process for this bequest, and in giving these works to the PMA, they are not only recognizing the unbelievable devotion of the PMA Board and staff, but the passion of the Maine community for supporting the arts."

Arthur Lipper, chairman of the Berger Trust, said its mission is to sponsor "programs that foster art appreciation and creativity."

"To this end, Bill and Bernadette Berger assembled a collection of works that would encourage such programs at the Portland Museum of Art," Lipper stated. "I believe that the couple would be proud that the donation of works from their foundation meets this goal."

Highlights of the gift from the Berger Collection Educational Trust in honor of the preservation of the Winslow Homer Studio include the paintings "Returning from the Spring, 1874," and "Young Farmers (Study for Weaning the Calf), 1873-1874," as well as nearly a dozen other works made by Homer during his career.

"We are excited to welcome these works of art back to Maine," continued Bessire. "There is no better home for the works of Winslow Homer than in the region that meant so much to him. We cannot wait to make these works accessible to all Mainers and visitors to our state and to expand upon the stories that our Winslow Homer collection can tell. The gift is especially meaningful, given the Berger family's deep connection and philanthropy at the Portland Museum of Art, the Winslow Homer Studio and the Prouts Neck community."


Berger Trust checklist of Winslow Homer paintings donated to PMA


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