Special Installation of Nineteen American Masterworks

A painting of a woman sitting down and reading 'Le Figaro'

Mary Cassatt, Reading ‘Le Figaro’, about 1877-78, oil on canvas, Lent by Thelma and Melvin Lenkin

Nineteen major paintings lent from the private collection of Thelma and Melvin Lenkin of Chevy Chase, MD, will be on view on the second floor galleries of the museum as part of a special installation from April 17 through August 16, 2015. Many of these works will be on public display for the first time.


Integrated within the chronological flow of the museum’s permanent collection, these masterworks from Gilded Age, Impressionist, and Ashcan School painters will help to tell the story of the late 19th century and early 20th centuries in America, a “coming-of-age” period in American art. Mary Cassatt’s renowned Reading 'Le Figaro' is joined by major paintings by George Bellows, Martin Johnson Heade, John Singer Sargent, John Sloan, William Glackens, John La Farge, Everett Shinn and others.

In the late 1800s painters such as Heade and La Farge captured the refined elegance to which Americans aspired during the Gilded Age, while expatriate artists such as Sargent and Cassatt pioneered impressionist styles abroad, challenging long-standing practice and rivaling their French counterparts. After 1900, artists such as Bellows, Glackens, Sloan and Shinn also abandoned traditional studio techniques to portray New York City’s bustling streets and slice-of-life views of parks, shops, bridges and entertainment halls. These painters embraced a changing world and depicted Americans plunging headlong into the future. Together these artists revolutionized American art, liberating it from academic strictures to become a dynamic mirror of life as “The American Century” was beginning.

The Lenkins began collecting more than thirty years ago, inspired to begin by the late Walter Hopps, then a curator at the museum; they have focused primarily on the Gilded Age, Impressionist and Ashcan generations before and after the turn of the twentieth century. Chief Curator Virginia Mecklenburg and Curator Emeritus William Truettner selected the artworks borrowed from the Lenkin Collection.

Visiting Information

April 17, 2015 August 16, 2015
Open Daily, 11:30 a.m.–7:00 p.m
Free Admission


The installation is made possible through the museum’s Raymond J. and Margaret Horowitz Endowment.


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George Bellows
born Columbus, OH 1882-died New York City 1925

Realist painter who moved from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, to New York City, establishing himself as a painter of the bustling urban landscape. He was associated with The Eight and was influenced by Robert Henri.

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Mary Cassatt
born Allegheny City, PA 1844-died Mesnil-Theribus, France 1926

Born to a prominent Pennsylvania family, Mary Cassatt spent her artistic career in Europe.

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William Glackens
born Philadelphia, PA 1870-died Westport, CT 1938

Painter, illustrator, and member of The Eight.

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John La Farge
born New York City 1835-died Providence, RI 1910

Painter, stained glass designer. Among his many commissions, decoration of the Trinity Church in Boston placed La Farge at the forefront of the American Arts and Crafts movement.

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John Singer Sargent
born Florence, Italy 1856-died London, England 1925

Painter. Sargent traveled in a circle of socially prominent people and is known for his loosely painted portraits done in a style reminiscent of Edgar Degas and James Abbott McNeill Whistler.

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Everett Shinn
born Woodstown, NJ 1876-died New York City 1953

Painter, illustrator and decorator.

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John Sloan
born Lock Haven, PA 1871-died Hanover, NH 1951

Painter, illustrator and teacher. With William Glackens, George Luks, Robert Henri, and Everett Shinn, Sloan was part of the Ashcan School.