An incoming collection of Florida-centric artwork, including pieces from Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent and Thomas Moran, will be the largest single art collection donated ever to the University of Florida’s Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art.
The estimated 1,200 works of art capture the state’s landscape and wildlife, historical moments and people scenes of daily life among oil paintings, watercolors, drawings and prints. The works date from the early 1800s to mid-1900s.
Jacksonville residents Sam and Robbie Vickers donated the works, 40 years after they began assembling their collection.
In the time since they began collecting, they have loaned art from their collection to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., and other Florida museums.
Harn Director Lee Anne Chesterfield said she first visited the Vickers to see their collection, well known in Florida art circles, when she joined the museum about three years ago.
“It was mind-blowing,” she said. “Every room is just filled with beautiful paintings.”
This spring, the Harn Museum will display a portion of the collection in its main exhibition hall. The exhibition, A Florida Legacy: Gift of Samuel H. and Roberta T. Vickers, will be on view Feb. 26-Aug. 1.
It will be organized along six thematic sections that address prominent subjects represented in the Vickers Collection: nature, history, landmarks, diversions, living and impressions.
Admission to the Harn Museum is free.
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The museum has not yet finalized appraisals on how much the collection, which features works from more than 700 artists, is worth.
Chesterfield said the Vickers opted to share the collection with the state’s flagship university so that it could be appreciated and studied by a broad audience. Though the Vickers were both born in Florida and spent a majority of their lives in the state, they attended the University of South Carolina rather than UF.
Many of the pieces in the new collection feature female artists, which is in line with one of the Harn’s goals to feature work from often-overlooked women.
“Some are well known, while others are beautiful works that people just aren’t as aware of,” Chesterfield said.
She said one piece she’s excited for the public to view is Thomas Moran’s “Fort George Island,” which features a creamsicle-colored sunset behind palm tree silhouettes over a beach scene.
“It’s so Florida,” Chesterfield said. “It’s so familiar and we’ve seen that so many times.”