The Taft Museum of Art will share more than 40 works of art with audiences at the Cincinnati Museum Center this summer. Borrowed Gems tells the story of the Tafts’ collection and its impact on the Cincinnati community. Portraits, landscape paintings and decorative art reveal how the collection inspired Cincinnati artisans to create beautiful objects of their own. Through their vision as art collectors and philanthropists, Charles and Anna Taft left a legacy that continues to inspire each generation anew.
Show how much you Love This House by shopping the bicentennial collection.
This volume presents highlights of the Taft Museum of Art’s exceptional collection, which spans over 750 years of creative endeavor. Donated to the city of Cincinnati in 1927, Charles and Anna Taft’s collection features beautiful porcelain from the Ming and Qing dynasties, paintings by masters including Rembrandt, Jan Steen, Gainsborough, Goya, Ingres, Corot, Whistler, and Sargent, and decorative pieces including crystal, gold, silver, and enamel work. The 80 pieces that feature in this volume, chosen from the 790-piece collection, are presented in four sections, coinciding with the museum’s major areas of specialization: European painting, European decorative arts, American art, and Chinese art.
Each piece is accompanied by an entry detailing its history and that of its artist or maker written by Taft curatorial staff. Former Taft chief curator Lynne D. Ambrosini’s essay explores the collecting practice of Charles and Anna Taft, including the inspiration they derived for their own collecting from visits to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Museum director Deborah Emont Scott’s foreword provides a history of the Taft bequest and its lasting significance to the city of Cincinnati and its present-day inhabitants.
As part of our bicentennial celebration, we imagined what this grand home would tell us if it could speak. We asked it many questions: What kind of art did its owners buy? Who visited? Were there artists among the guests? What was happening artistically outside its walls? As we brought together works of art for this exhibition, the answers began coming. Here was the language our museum spoke; here was its distinctive voice.
Comprising about sixty works on loan from twenty-one private collections and thirteen public institutions, this catalog highlights Cincinnati artists active while this neoclassical mansion served as the residence of three prominent families: the Baums, the Longworths, and the Sinton/Tafts. Many of the artists featured in A Splendid Century | Cincinnati Art 1820–1920 benefited directly from the support of these families, and all enjoyed success in part because of the cultural climate created by them.