VMFA Adds Iconic Painting to Its Collection

December 13th, 2018

Make plans to see the newest artwork at VMFA


You’ve probably seen it in history books or art books. This “iconic” piece of art is a classic textbook picture, said Alex Nyerges, director of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts at the Dec. 12 unveiling of Asher B. Durand’s painting, Progress (The Advance of Civilization). The painting by the Hudson River School artist is the single most valuable work of art ever gifted to the museum’s collection, received from an anonymous donor.

Durant’s Progress reflects important elements in American cultural and social history, including the Industrial Revolution, ecology and deforestation, the growth of American railroads and Native American policies. The images in the 48-by-72-inch painting include Native Americans, native flora and fauna, a small town with a steam-spewing locomotive, livestock and telegraph poles.

Nyerges told the audience at the unveiling that the VMFA’s policy of free admission to permanent collection galleries was a deciding factor in the donor’s decision to give the iconic painting to the Richmond museum.

“The Banjo Player”

Progress will be on view in VMFA’s American Galleries beginning on Dec. 18.

Other new acquisitions were on display at the unveiling, among the museums 250 new works, including

• 44 etchings by Salvador Dalí in Les Chants de Maldoror
The Banjo Player, 1929, by Hale Woodruff, oil on canvas
• Paul Rucker’s “Storm in the Time of Shelter,” Klan robes and ephemera, from his exhibition at Richmond’s Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU
A View on the Magdalena River, 1857, by Frederic Edwin Church, oil on canvas
• Japanese works by various artists, such a tea bowls, hanging scrolls, porcelain and folding screens

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
200 N. Boulevard, Richmond

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