Hood receives 118-piece gift from alum

by Haley Gordon | 10/27/14 6:37pm

The Hood Museum announced Friday that it received a 118-piece donation of art from the children of Barbara and David Stahl ’47. The works, collected over 30 years, include drawings, paintings ceramics and an extensive set of prints ranging from the 16th to the 20th century.

Four of their children donated the pieces, a selection of which will be featured in the Hood between August and December 2015.

Hood curator of American art Barbara MacAdam said she and Hood senior curator of collections Katherine Hart went through the Stahls’ collection and chose works that they felt would best supplement the museum’s current collections.

The Stahl collection of prints includes works by 16th- and 17th-century Old Masters like Albrecht Durer, Jacques Callot, Rembrandt and Wenceslaus Hollar, as well as 19th-century prints that feature scenes of popular culture and social unrest, MacAdam said.

Hart said she is especially excited that the Hood acquired a print by lesser-known artist Ira Moskowitz that portrays a kibbutz, an Israeli agricultural community. The piece has both political and agricultural significance, and the Hood does not own any similar image, Hart said.

A contemporary print, based on Jack Levine’s 1954 painting “Election Night,” is another exciting work, Hart said. The print shows powerful, wealthy politicians indulging themselves in various vices on election night.

The Stahls were proud of their set of prints by George Rouault titled “Le Cirque de L’Etoile Filante.” Two of these prints were the first pieces that the Stahls purchased as collectors, and David Stahl did not complete the set until 2006, MacAdam said.

The prints show scenes of circus performers as marginalized persons in society, exposing a darker side to the festival performers, MacAdam said.

Hart said the Stahl donation will allow for more cross-disciplinary learning between classroom discussions and visits to the Hood. Last winter, she said, the museum pulled out more than 1,000 works for classrooms to view during the term and offered programming to nearly 700 students.

“David Stahl was a loyal Dartmouth alumnus and he and his wife and his children all value education very highly,” MacAdam said. “I think the way the Hood has reached out and become so integral to the curriculum here really excited him, and I think that’s why the family gave us a call.”

A French class at Dartmouth has already viewed some works in the collection. The pieces are by Honoré Daumier, a 19th-century French artist known for his caricature drawings, paintings and prints.

Katherine Clayton ’18, a member of the French class who viewed the Daumier works, said the artist’s “Le Passé—Le Présent—L’Avenir” drawing, translated to “Past, Present, Future,” was a favorite. The work depicts King Louis-Philippe of France with three faces, a satirical depiction of the monarchy in decline, she said.

“I thought that it was really cool that first of all that Dartmouth had these works that were really pertinent to what we were learning and that we could look at them firsthand, get to see them on actual paper and touch them,” Clayton said. “I thought it was a great thing that Dartmouth was able to bring to us, especially because it was so applicable to our class.”

Many of the artworks grapple with themes of totalitarianism and war, intolerance and faith, showing the collectors’ interest in social issues.

“The Stahls were very socially conscious people and collectors, and a lot of the subjects have to do with social conditions,” MacAdam said. “They were real humanitarians, and I think that’s reflected in the collection.”

Hart called the Stahls “collectors’ collectors” because of their passion for printmaking, not just acquiring a financial asset.

Following next fall’s show, the collection will be fully integrated into the Hood’s collections, catalogued and entered into its online database.