"FIRST LOOK" FAVORITE:
In 2008, Associate Curator of American Art Mark Mitchell was in the early phases of planning an exhibition on American still-life painting. Thinking of possible acquisitions that the Museum might pursue to bolster its still-life holdings and enhance the exhibition, Mitchell started making visits to art dealers. When he went to Michael Altman Fine Art in New York, he cited “Flower Still Life with Bird’s Nest” by nineteenth-century master Severin Roesen as an exemplar of the style and quality that he was seeking. Little did he know, the very painting, which had long been in private hands, had just gone on the market and was sitting in the gallery’s storage at that exact moment.
The serendipity of the encounter propelled the Museum to undertake a fund-raising campaign to secure the picture for Philadelphia. Roesen had spent much of his career in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, advancing the artistic achievements of this region while redefining the genre of American still life. Recognizing this treasure’s value to the collection, every member of the American Art department’s advisory committee stepped forward with contributions toward its purchase, a historic and triumphant moment for the Museum.
"Flower Still Life with Bird’s Nest," 1853, by Severin Roesen