Includes major works by Howard Pyle, Peter Williams, and local women artists


During its annual Member’s meeting last week the Delaware Art Museum announced that it acquired 61 works  of art by 37 artists over the last 18 months. New acquisitions include five costume studies by Howard Pyle for the play Springtime, an embroidered tunic and matching shoes by Pre-Raphaelite artist Marie Spartali Stillman, a large-scale painting by painter Peter Williams, and two sculptures for the Copeland Sculpture Garden. The works date from 1856 through 2016 and include photographs, paintings, prints, drawings, illustrations, sculptures, and decorative arts.

“The Museum is also focused on diversifying the collection by adding work by more women artists and artists of color and continuing support of local artists. Since the start of 2016 the Museum has acquired 21 works by 16 women,” explains Museum’s Chief Curator and Curator of American Art Dr. Heather Campbell Coyle.

The gift of Marie Spartali Stillman’s tunic and shoes was the result of the Museum’s 2016 groundbreaking exhibition, Poetry in Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelite Art of Marie Spartali Stillman, organized by Dr. Margaretta Frederick, the Annette Woolard-Provine Curator of the Bancroft Collection at the Delaware Art Museum, adding to the Museum’s collection of British Pre-Raphaelite art. “Marie Spartali Stillman has received little recognition within the history of art for a number of reasons, including persistent attitudes towards women artists during that time,” explains Frederick.

Similarly, acquisitions of work by women artists Helen Farr Sloan and Elizabeth Osborne came out of the Museum’s recent exhibitions featuring the artists. The Sloan sketchbook, donated by the artist’s longtime friend Paul Preston Davis, was included in the Museum’s 2015 show, and Osborne’s painting, Black Doorway I from 1966,is now on view in the Lynn Herrick Sharp Gallery for contemporary art.

In addition to the works by female artists Stillman, Sloan, and Osborne, the Museum acquired a pastel by Gretchen Moyer, three illustrations by Clara D. Davidson, and a self-portrait by American impressionist Lilla Cabot Perry–the first works by these artists to enter the collection. An embroidered book by Annie Morris and a stunning exhibition watercolor by Barbara Bodichon have already made appearances in the Pre-Raphaelite galleries. In addition, the Museum added to its holdings of work by local artist Margo Allman, a longtime exhibitor (Allman’s work was first purchased by the Museum in 1963).

On view in the second floor gallery for contemporary art is a major painting acquisition by University of Delaware Professor Peter Williams. Smile was completed during Peter’s summer 2016 residency at the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans. The Museum’s Curator of Contemporary Art, Margaret Winslow, introduces the painting: “The work references New Orleans, its history, colors, and architecture and the 1811 slave rebellion–one of the largest in United States history–that took place in the city. Williams presents these references in a stage-like composition with the figures connected by structures informed by minimalism and pattern and decoration painting of the 1970s.” A cast of regularly occurring characters, such as his superhero “The N-Word,” populate his geometric, pop-art landscapes and comment on race relations today.

“While the Museum owns more than 1,000 works by Pyle, the beautiful watercolor costume studies come from the only set of costume designs that Pyle ever produced, creating meaningful connections to paintings already in the Museum’s extensive illustration collection,” says Coyle.

Two large sculptures by important local artists were also added to the Copeland Sculpture Garden in 2016: Bernie Felch’s Dream Stele, 1988, and Stan Smokler’s Circle of Lines, 2011. Constructed of 25 layers of eight oversized bricks, Dream Stele was originally made for a 1988 national competition at Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park Horticulture Center. Dream Stele is an example of the artist’s carved brick forms and incorporates imagery inspired by Egyptian or ancient Near East iconography. Dream Stele complements Felch’s site-specific installation In the Park (1986-87), on view in the front of the Museum.

To view large images and caption information, click below.

Circle of Lines was donated to the Museum by the artist. A regional sculptor who has taught at the Delaware College of Art and Design since 1998, Smokler most recently participated in the Delaware Art Museum’s 2015 Outlooks exhibition, Reconstructed Elements. Smokler explains that he is “always searching for new ways to invent and organize space,” and this sculpture–created from found steel–shows his interest in line and abstract forms.

“For Museum acquisitions, 2017 is off to an exciting start with the gift of 13 works from the collection of the Hotel DuPont, including beloved works by N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, and Frank Schoonover,” says Dr. Coyle. “These works add to our strength in representing the artists of Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley.”

In addition, the gift includes oil paintings by Carolyn Wyeth, John Koch, and Harvey Dunn; watercolors by Ann Wyeth McCoy and John McCoy; and an assemblage of fabric and seashells by Helen Woodring that greeted generations of diners at the entrance to the Green Room (Click here to read press release).

Just days after the DuPont gift arrived, the Museum acquired two exciting works by African-American modernists: Along the Harlem River, an oil painting by Malvin Gray Johnson that was exhibited in the Society of Independent Artists exhibition in 1925, and Beulah Woodard’s Mask, a metal sculpture from about 1935 that was inspired by the artist’s study of African art.

The 2016 acquisitions can be viewed at


Support was provided, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on


Founded in 1912, the Delaware Art Museum is recognized for its cornerstone collection of works by celebrated American artist and illustrator Howard Pyle, a Wilmington native, complemented by hundreds of works by some of the most talented illustrators.

Also renowned for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the largest and most significant Pre-Raphaelite collection outside of the United Kingdom, assembled by Samuel Bancroft, Jr., a Wilmington textile mill owner with a taste for Dante Gabriel Rossetti and other contemporaries of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

The Museum is famous for the preeminent collection of urban landscapes by American painter John Sloan and his circle. The Sloan collection lives alongside an esteemed survey of American art–spanning more than 200 years–from early 19th century through the present, including masterworks by Raphaelle Peale, Frederic Church, Thomas Eakins, Edward Hopper, Robert Motherwell, and Dale Chihuly. Visitors also enjoy the outdoor Copeland Sculpture Garden, featuring large-scale works by Tom Otterness and George Rickey.

For more than 100 years, the Museum has occupied a vibrant place in the life of the Brandywine Valley. More than a collection of beautiful objects, the Museum is a vital source of experiences and discoveries for visitors from around the world.

The Delaware Art Museum is at 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, DE 19806. Wednesday: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Thursday: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., and Friday – Sunday: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Monday and Tuesday: Closed. Adults (19-59) $12, Seniors (60+) $10, Students (with valid ID) $6, Youth (7-18) $6, and Children (6 and under) free. Admission fees are waived Thursdays 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. and Sundays 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. thanks to support from generous individuals. For more information, call 302-571-9590 or 866-232-3714 (toll free), or visit

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Jessica Jenkins
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