Miller Singers

Hagerstown, Maryland - Loving Art: The William & Anna Singer Collection is organized by the Singer Museum Laren, Laren, the Netherlands with special cooperation from the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, Hagerstown, Maryland; Singerheimen (the Singer home Dalheim), in Olden, Norway; and the West-Norway Museum of Decorative Art in Bergen, Norway.  The exhibition was first shown at the Singer Museum Laren from September 13, 2006 through January 7, 2007 and will now appear at its only American location, the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts through 15 April, 2007.

The Hagerstown presentation of this exhibition was made possible due to the kind generosity of the John M. Waltersdorf Family, with additional support from David Smith and The Goldman Sachs group.

Loving Art: The William & Anna Singer Collection is a special collaborative exhibition simultaneously honoring the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts and the fiftieth anniversary of our sister museum in the Netherlands, the Singer Museum in Laren.  Loving Art celebrates the art collection of William and Anna Brugh Singer, the founders of both museums.  William H. Singer, Jr., a painter who was the son of a Pittsburgh steel magnate, married the lively Hagerstown native Anna Brugh in 1895.  The couple spent most of their adult lives in Europe pursuing their interests in painting and collecting art works to ornament their homes in the Netherlands and Norway.  Between 1900 and 1940 the Singers acquired more than three thousand works of American, European, and Asian art.  The Singer Collection is now divided between the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, the Singer Museum in Laren, Singerheimen (the Singer home) Dalheim, in Olden, Norway, and the West-Norway Museum of Decorative Art in Bergen, Norway.  Loving Art is the first exhibition to bring together works from all four institutions to display the full range of the Singer Collection.

Childe Hassam White House GlousterThis exhibition highlights the Singers’ large art holdings and narrates how the couple acquired their art.  The friendships the Singers enjoyed with painters and art dealers often informed their purchases.  They collected works by artists William Singer had met during his studies in Paris as well as when painting and exhibiting in America, including American Impressionists Childe Hassam, Willard Metcalf, and Richard Miller. Singer’s mentor Norwegian painter Martin Borgord accompanied the Singers to Paris where William studied art and then to the Dutch town of Laren where Borgord and Singer joined the local art colony.  In the Netherlands the Singers acquired works by contemporary Dutch painters such as Albert Neuhuys, Anton Mauve, Frans Deutmann, and Willy Sluiter.  Through their friend the Dutch art dealer Joop Siedenburg the Singers acquired works by such major European artists as Gustave Courbet, Auguste Rodin, Eugène Boudin, Jean-Francois Millet. Asian decorative art came into the Singer Collection from both Dutch dealers and their Dutch artist friend Willem Dooijewaard.  In search of stimulating landscapes for William to paint, in 1903 the Singers traveled to Norway, where they later built a home and continued to collect.  After founding the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in 1931 and the Singer Museum in Laren a quarter century later, the Singers acquired Old Master European works for these institutions.

The accompanying publication Loving Art: The William & Anna Singer Collection was developed by the Singer Laren Museum of Laren, the Netherlands as the result of over three years of research on the Singers’ life and collection.  The publication was made possible in part by the Friends of the Singer Museum Foundation and the Mondriaan Foundation.  Written by Helen Schretlen with a contribution by Jean Woods, former Washington County Museum of Fine Arts Director, the definitive volume begins by introducing the cosmopolitan lifestyle of William and Anna Signer with a biographical introduction then delves into a “biography of a collection.”MUSEUM Thanks to the generosity of William and Anna Singer, the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts opened on September 16, 1931 as the focal point of Hagerstown’s beautiful City Park.  The Museum specializes in 19th and 20th century American art and holds over 6,000 pieces in its permanent collection.  This “crown jewel of Washington County” has been recognized as one of the finest small museums in the United States.  This year the Museum celebrate its 75th anniversary.

The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts is located at 91 Key Street, City Park, Hagerstown, Maryland.  Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.  The museum is closed Monday. Admission is free for all visitors.  For more information call 301-739-5727 or visit www.wcmfa.org

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