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American Painting & Sculpture

Ranging from the colonial portraiture of John Singleton Copley to the contemporary art of Nam June Paik and Elizabeth Murray, the Chrysler's collection of American painting and sculpture is one of its greatest glories. The collection began to take shape in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s with a small but choice group of purchases made by the Chrysler’s forerunner, the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences. Yet the bulk of the Chrysler's present strength in the area of American art is due to the rich intersection of three major gifts made in the 1970s and 1980s.

The most important of these, from Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., began with his arrival in Norfolk in 1971 and ultimately brought hundreds of iconic American images into the collection. Between 1974 and 1982, Mr. Chrysler's older sister Bernice and her husband Colonel Edgar William Garbisch further expanded the Museum's holdings by donating more than 164 paintings from their nationally acclaimed collection of 19th-century American folk art. In 1983 the Museum negotiated a third major donation, securing seventy marble sculptures from the renowned James H. Ricau collection, the last significant group of 19th-century American sculpture then in private hands.

At The Florist

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Frederick Childe Hassam
At the Florist, 1889
Oil on canvas

The innovations of Impressionism took root in America somewhat belatedly, about a decade after the revolutionary approach gained popularity in Europe. Its American practitioners formed an alliance of painters known as The Ten, and the most prominent and productive member of that group was Childe Hassam. Painted by Hassam in Paris, At the Florist presents a charming slice of French urban life: a curbside flower market filled with bouquets and ministered by young female attendants dressed in white work aprons and caps.