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Highlights of the Collection

The Godwin-Ternbach collection of over 5,000 objects from antiquity to the present represents art and artifacts in all media from all periods and cultures, Western and non-Western. Works from the major areas of Painting, Sculpture and Decorative Arts, Prints and Drawings, and Ethnographic Arts are offered here in chronological order, from ancient to modern times.






Within the Museum’s walls are many small hidden treasures that require us to look closely and carefully at their workmanship and beauty. In the mysterious representations of gods, charms, and amulets painted on the Fragment of an Egyptian Sarcophagus (1), or an Etruscan bronze Votive Figure, we see a glimmer of lost civilizations (2). The fearsome face of the marble Mask of Silenus (3), a part bestial, part human creature of Greek mythology, once warned of the dangers of intemperance and insatiable appetite from its original placement high on a building façade. From the ancient nomadic Luristan culture of Iran come any number of objects with images of horses, while the intricate design of a bowl from the later Seljuk period is fashioned in the shape of a melon (4). All reflect the veneration of nature and the animal kingdom common to all ancient cultures.





Other works offer more familiar symbolic images. The exquisite Descent from the Cross (5), a leaf from a diptych carved in ivory by an anonymous 14th-century master, attests to the plaintive truth of sacrifice and the glory of spiritual devotion. The serene presence of the carved stone Bodhisattva (6) from Gandara, India makes the benevolent wisdom of Buddhist teaching visible, while the joyous spirit of pre-Columbian America is preserved in the tiny figure dancing atop a terracotta “Stopless” Flute (7) from Veracruz, Mexico.





Numerous Renaissance works inspired by the classical world grace the collection. The beautifully crafted figurine of Atlas Crouching (8), who shoulders the burden of the globe, is one from a significant group of Italian bronzes. Albrecht Dürer’s contemplative engraved portrait of Erasmus of Rotterdam (9), the philosopher who brought enlightenment to the North, is but one example from our exceptionally fine collection of 15th to 20th century prints. A spare, masterful drawing by Rembrandt of Christ on the Mount of Olives (10) is a true highlight of the drawings collection.






Among our paintings from the 15th to 17th centuries, are works by important masters and workshops, like the lovely Madonna and Child with Fruit (11) by Veronese painter Santa Creara or the tender Madonna and Child from the workshop of Peter Paul Rubens (12), both of which cloak Christian doctrine in the virtuoso naturalism of Renaissance style. Dutch Horseman’s Game (13) by Baroque painter Philips Wouwerman, a student of the great Dutch master Jacob van Ruysdael, is an icon of the Reformation’s secular realism. Devoid of religious significance, it revels in a “game” of the period—“skinning the cat”—where the representation of equestrian skill and bravura technique of the painter belie the harsh realities of the image and of life in those times. It is also one of the rare Wouwerman’s in an American collection. Similarly, the magnificent Christ Carrying the Cross (14) by Venetian Baroque artist Paris Bordone, is as fine an example as any of that master, and one of the few in this country.



The charming Fête Galante (15) of Rococo painter Nicolas Lancret pictures courtly entertainment prior to the demise of the aristocratic world in the French Revolution. Successor to Jean-Antoine Watteau, Lancret decorated the interior of Versailles under the patronage of Louis XV. The painting, set in an elaborate original frame with a delicate molded wooden bow at the top, epitomizes the 18th century’s veneration of the feminine and is one of a pair in our collection.



In the 19th century, the visual and emotional realism of Renaissance and Baroque artists resurged in the work of Romantics like Antoine-Louis Barye, the finest of the French animaliers sculptors. Jaguar Devouring a Hare (16), considered his masterpiece, displays a similar passion for violence and truth to nature as Dutch Horseman’s Game, but removes man as privileged subject and center of the universe.





Modernists works, primarily from the print collection, illustrate the revolutionary color, form, and content developed by artists of the Symbolist, Impressionist, Expressionist, Cubist, Surrealist, and Pop art movements. Near the turn of the century, new attitudes and materials freed artists to experiment and produce a new kind of art. Works by Daumier, Whistler, Morisot, and Lautrec signal a radical simplification and distortion of image that emerged in the 19th century and climaxed in the work of Picasso, Braque, Matisse, Rouault, and Pechstein in the 20th century. In Picasso’s Peintre Travaillant (Painter Working) (17), figure, ground, and space are reduced to essentials through the use of nothing more than line. Kandinsky’s Kleine Welten II (Small Worlds II) (18) is a paradigm of modern abstraction in its use of form and color to symbolize content and emotional states. These strategies upset all definitions of subject matter and representation that had dominated since the Renaissance. By the mid-20th century, with the rise of media, advertising, and post-industrial culture, art had become a cause for celebration of popular culture, and tongue-in-cheek productions like Andy Warhol’s famous Soup Can series (19) turned sacred and romantic myths and styles of art and artists on their head.



The art of non-Western cultures was a catalyst for the change that took place in modernist art. The detail of the lovely geisha from Utagawa Kuniyoshi’s Autumn Triptych (20) reveals many of the qualities admired by the moderns—a flattening of space and abandonment of perspective to favor rhythms of line and emphasize pattern and surface; absence of modeling in light and shadow to create a three-dimensional illusion; decorative, unnaturalistic use of color; and unusual angles of vision that dramatize composition and content.








These qualities and a preference for abstract and symbolic form and content are found globally in the creations of other traditional cultures from Asia (21) to Africa (22), the Pacific (23) and Native America. (24)

We hope this introduction serves as an invitation to explore our Museum without walls—here on the website—as well as to come and enjoy the real objects in our galleries.

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