Around the late 1950s, The Charles P. Russell art collection was given to Deerfield Academy by Mr. Russell’s daughters, Miss Lusia Russell and Mrs. Lucius Potter, who each collected European and American art respectively.
Miss Lucia Russell’s collection contains of European paintings spanning from pre-1700 Flemish baroque, British portraiture of the 18th and 19th century to late 19th century Impressionism.
The more numerous of the two, Mrs. Lucius Potter’s American collection, is mainly characterized by formal, flattering portraits made during colonial America up to the nineteenth century, but also includes romantic, realist, and modern pieces.
Ms. Hemphill stated that, “Fifteen to twenty years ago, the Guggenheim in Spain borrowed two of our American portraits for a show they had there.”
Most Deerfield students aren’t aware of the school’s art collection. Indeed, many of the paintings used to be hung in the Frank L. Boyden Library; after its renovation in 2015, the paintings came down and were either stored or hungput up in the Manse, resulting in the decline of the collectionsits presence in students’ everyday lives.
One example of the artwork currently being stored in the Manse is Rainy Evening, New York, by Frederick Childe Hassam (American, 1859-1935). Frederick Childe Hassam was one of the leading American Impressionists by the end of the nineteenth century. He was influenced by both the impressionist and post impressionists of Europe. Just like his contemporaries, Hassam payed attention to details of delicate lighting and experimented with color throughout his career. A distinguished artist, he received many awards for his work. One of Deerfield’s most valuable paintings, Rainy Evening, New York, depicts a fleeting moment in time where Hassam creates a somber, yet peaceful tone.
The attention to the ground’s reflection illustrates Hassam’s skill in capturing light and texture.
H. Manning Curtis, Spouse of Head of School Margarita
Curtis, commented on the details, saying, “This is a really funny piece because you can see the guys watching the lady pass by. It’s subtle but cool.”
Other works in the Manse include La Toilette by Jean François Millet and The Janitor’s Daughter by Robert Henri.
Dr. Curtis encourages all students to visit the artwork.
She said, “Enjoying world class art on a daily level is a rich gift—a way to draw one’s attention away from daily routines and chores to other realities and possibilities.”