AUSTIN, Texas—The Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art in the College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin in the past week has announced a $1 million gift, the purchase of a 16th century painting called the “most significant single acquisition” in its history and the selection of its senior curator to a prestigious national board.
Dr. Ernest and Sarah Butler, Austin philanthropists, gave $1 million to support the development of a dynamic Focus Gallery to be in the Blanton’s new museum complex. The facility will be named the Sarah and Ernest Butler Family Fund Gallery in recognition of the Butlers’ gift, and will be a flexible 1,500-square-foot space in which curators, faculty and graduate students will organize frequently changing exhibitions drawn from the museum’s collections. The gallery will also support teaching and research at the Blanton and create opportunities for the presentation of new and different works of art from the Blanton’s rapidly expanding collection.
Virgin and Child with the Young St. John the Baptist
Oil on panel
Gift of the Effie and Wofford Cain Foundation
Image © Blanton Museum of Art
“This innovative gallery will be the intellectual heart of the museum where the people of Austin can come and explore our exceptional collection from new perspectives,” said Jessie Otto Hite, director of the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art. “A laboratory for ideas, this gallery will foster the study of art and provide students and scholars at the university with a space to exercise their imaginations.”
The Butler’s gift comes in the same week as the donation from the Effie and Wofford Cain Foundation, an Austin-based foundation, which allowed the Blanton to acquire the Old Master painting “Virgin and Child with the Young St. John the Baptist” by 16th-century Genoese artist Luca Cambiaso. The painting was acquired from the Paris-based Galerie Canesso and is now on view at TEFAF Maastricht—the European Fine Art Fair—in The Netherlands.
“This is the most significant single acquisition the Blanton has ever made,” said Jonathan Bober, senior curator of prints, drawings and European paintings at the Blanton Museum of Art.
The gift of “Virgin and Child with the Young St. John the Baptist” reinforces the Blanton’s international stature as a leading museum for the collection, exhibition and study of Old Master paintings, drawings and prints. The painting also enhances strengths that were previously established through two major gifts to the Blanton in the past few years: the Suida-Manning Collection of later Renaissance and Baroque paintings and drawings, and the Leo Steinberg Collection of prints.
In addition to announcing the recent gifts, the museum also announced that Bober has been asked to join the International Advisory Committee of Keepers of Public Collections of Graphic Art. Among the American members on the committee, Bober is the only one representing a university museum, and the Blanton is the first museum to be included from the South and Southwest regions in the United States.
Bober was nominated to the 40-person committee by Andrew Robison of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The organization was formed in the 1960s so that curators of graphic art could have their own high-level forum for discussing collection care, coordination of initiatives and lobbying on issues of concern. Membership is individual but representative of a collection, so the committee’s invitation is an honor for the Blanton Museum as well as for Bober himself. It recognizes the importance of the museum and its collection of prints and drawings.
Through his participation on the committee, Bober will have the opportunity to further strengthen the Blanton’s ties to major museums, collections and curators throughout the United States and Europe.