December 23, 1939: New accessions of the Brooklyn Museum acquired in November and December will be arranged as a special exhibition opening December 29th to run through January 28th. On the same date prints from the George Brainard collection of photographic plates of scenes of New York and vicinity from 1870 to 1880 will be put on permanent exhibition in a fifth floor gallery.
Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1939 - 1941. 11-12/1939, 329.
December 29, 1939: The most important acquisition to be shown in the Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition of Recent Accessions which opens on Friday, December 29th, to run through January 28th is a red quartzite XIIth Dynasty Egyptian figure in perfect condition. The subject of this sculpture is Senbefni, son of Senwosret, and his wife, It-Tau-Nefert. It is archeologically extremely important because, according to John Cooney, Curator of Egyptology at the Museum, “to our knowledge it is the earliest known statue to show this position”, the husband, a figure 30 inches high, in a squatting posture, arms crossed over his knees, and a figure of his wife, 9 inches high, standing between his feet, both facing forward. The figure was formerly in the collection of Lord Amherst and was purchased from the Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund.
Another interesting object in the exhibition is an Historical picture entitled “Lady Washington’s Reception” by Daniel Huntington, which has hung for years in the Crescent Athletic Club in Brooklyn and was given to the Museum by that organization.
Under the heading of fine arts, there are also Japanese prints by Hiroshige, an early American painting of Mrs. Elizabeth Smith by John Hesselins, a rare drawing by Cezanne, six lithographs by Daumier, four wood cuts by Whistler and a Japanese color print by Harunobu. In the Department of American Indian Art and Primitive Cultures two important Mexican stone pieces will be shown, one a pre-Spanish Aztec carved stone figure representing the Goddess of Vegetation from the region of Jalapa, state of Vera Cruz, Mexico, and the other figure of the Water God of Cempoala, Mexico, a pre-Spanish carved stone figure of the Totonac culture.
Senbefni, subject of the Egyptian figure, was overseer of the king’s cattle, a position which today corresponds today to that of Secretary of Agriculture. The Museum welcomes this example to its Egyptian collection as heretofore it has not had any important examples of sculpture from the Middle Kingdom, 2160-1788 B. C.
The pencil drawing by Cezanne is an important addition to the Print collection as it is one from a series of nine studies which the artist is known to have done from a piece of French Baroque sculpture of a cupid by Pierre Puget. The other eight are scattered over the world in various collections but the example now in the Brooklyn Museum collection is considered by authorities as the finest of the set. It is significant because these studies, according to Carl O. Schniewind, Curator of Prints and Drawings, had a definite traceable influence on Cezanne’s style. This drawing is particularly famous as it has been exhibited time and again in Europe and in America. Cezanne also painted three oils and four water colors of the same subject.
The portrait of Mrs. Elizabeth Smith, who was a Miss Chew of Philadelphia, was painted in 1762 by J. Hesselius, an artist of the middle Atlantic states whose work is just coming to light. The portrait has been in the Chew family since it was painted. An article on Hesselius appears in the Winter 1939 issue of the Art Quarterly of the Detroit Institute of Arts.
The additions to the American costume collection that will be shown are two evening dresses of the “Clara Bow” period, knee length straight gowns one, 1926, pink beaded and the other, 1927, ornamented with black spangles.
Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1939 - 1941. 11-12/1939, 342-3.