One of the most unique and exceptional aspects of the NBMAA’s permanent collection of over 1,800 artworks is
The Sanford B.D. Low Illustration Collection,
named in memory of the Museum’s first director.
Conceived in 1965, the collection was founded by well-known illustrators Stevan Dohanos, Robert Fawcett, Howard Munce, Arthur William Brown, Henry Pitz, and Walt Reed, who established the Sanford B.D. Low Memorial Illustration Committee. Carrying on Low’s desire to preserve and promote the great art of illustration, the Committee invited America’s preeminent illustrators to donate their work to the Museum. Today, the collection comprises nearly 1,800 works, making it one of the nation’s three largest.
The Museum will present Masterpieces of The Sanford B.D. Low Illustration Collection,
providing a veritable history of American illustration. The show will highlight the work of groundbreaking artists such as Howard Pyle, Frederic Rodrigo Gruger, J.C. Leyendecker, Maxfield Parrish, N.C. Wyeth, Norman Rockwell, and many others. During their time, these artists captured distinctly American values through story and advertisement illustrations, as well as iconic cover illustrations for publications such as Scribner’s Magazine and The Saturday Evening Post. Relatable images such as John Falter’s idyllic Boys and Kites
(1950) and Stevan Dohanos’s Fourth of July Parade
(1947) graced American households and influenced pop culture during some of the most significant cultural transformations of the early twentieth century. Other artists, such as Howard Pyle, illustrated stories and works of fiction, whose subject matter transcended the boundaries of the United States. Likewise, much of the pulp art in the Low Illustration Collection depicts narratives that take place beyond America, and even Earth.
Masterpieces of The Sanford B.D. Low Illustration Collection will take visitors on a journey through American illustration, a genre of art that has continued to impact our everyday lives and the formation of a diverse national identity.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.