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Inside the Dallas Museum of Art’s Revamped European Collection

After a summer rehaul, the museum has reopened its European art galleries with rarely seen works from the museum’s permanent collection, restored Old Master paintings and sculptures, and a collection of Impressionist and Modern masterworks.

Gustave Courbet, “Fox in the Snow” (1860) (all images courtesy of the Dallas Museum of Art)

The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) in Texas is 0ne of the largest art museums in the United States, ranking 11th biggest. It is also a museum with significant holdings of European art, especially French painting from the second half of the 19th century. On August 17, the museum reopened its European art galleries after a summer rehaul. The reinstalled galleries feature rarely seen works from the museum’s permanent collection, restored Old Master paintings and sculptures, and a collection of Impressionist and Modern masterworks bequeathed to the museum after the death of Dallas philanthropist Margaret McDermott.

Edvard Munch, “Thuringian Forest” (1904)

McDermott’s bequest prompted the decision to reinstall the European Art galleries to accommodate the new acquisitions. The philanthropist’s final gift includes 32 artworks from the 19th and early 20th-century, including paintings by Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso, and Georges Braque, among others.

Paul Signac, “Mont St. Michel, Setting Sun” (1897)

Margaret McDermott was married to Eugene McDermott, a geophysicist and co-founder of the Geophysical Service, now called Texas Instruments. Mrs. McDermott was the single largest donor to the DMA, gifting it more than 3,100 works of art while serving on its board for 57 years. In the past, she helped the museum acquire masterpieces by Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Yves Tanguy, Eugène Delacroix, Gustave Caillebotte, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and Paul Signac. McDermott was also instrumental in the museum’s relocation from Fair Park in Dallas to the city’s Arts District in 1984. She died at age 106.

Amedeo Modigliani, “Boy in Short Pants” (c. 1918)
Paul Gauguin, “Flowers and Bird” (c. 1884-1886)

“The McDermotts’ generous bequest was of such a transformative magnitude that we knew we would have to reimagine the entire presentation of European art in our galleries,” said the DMA’s Director, Agustín Arteaga, in a statement. “With this new installation we provide visitors a stronger and more in-depth narrative of European art history and add richer context to visitor favorites from our collection.”

Anne Vallayer-Coster, “Bouquet of Flowers in a Terracotta Vase with Peaches and Grapes” ( 1776)
Giulio Cesare Procaccini, “Ecce Homo” (c. 1615–1620)

DMA’s permanent collection includes more than 24,000 artworks spanning 5,000 years of history. The reinstallation also includes artworks from the Medieval and Decorative Arts departments. Among those is “The Descent from the Cross” (c. 1480-90), a monumental panel by German master painter Derick Baegert, and Giulio Cesare Procaccini’s “Ecce Homo” (c. 1615–1620), depicting a flagellated Christ presented to the masses by a disdainful Pontius Pilate.

Eugène Isabey, “Approaching Storm” ( c. 1864)

“We’re excited to be unveiling a dynamic new installation enriched by significant recent acquisitions and a more integrated approach to displaying decorative arts and sculpture,” said Nicole R. Myers, the DMA’s Senior Curator of European Art, in a statement. “Visitors will encounter their favorite works of art in fresh settings and novel dialogues, in addition to finding surprises and new discoveries throughout the European galleries.”

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