Hammer Hangs a UCLA Gainsborough

The UCLA Hammer Museum is showing Thomas Gainsborough's Peasant Smoking at a Cottage Door. It's the most important of a group of 11 British paintings donated to UCLA in 1954 by the widow of marine engineer James Kennedy. At the time UCLA had no art museum.

Now it does, but the agreement with Armand Hammer's foundation and family restricts UCLA's ability to show other European art next to Hammer's. This is the first time the Gainsborough has been shown at the museum. Another notable UCLA painting, a studio copy of Leonardo's Virgin and Child with Saint Anne, was donated by real estate developer Willits J. Hole in 1939 and is now on loan to the Getty.

Peasant Smoking at a Cottage Door is one of a group of landscapes including Cottage Door (about 1780) at the Huntington. The Kennedy-UCLA picture reinvents the theme to emphasize the golden light of sunset. It and related paintings were united at the Huntington in a 2006 exhibition, "Sensation and Sensibility: Viewing Gainsborough's Cottage Door."
Thomas Gainsborough, Peasant Smoking at a Cottage Door, about 1788


Anonymous said…
I wonder why there is a restriction in displaying European artworks from UCLA's collections next to ones originally owned by Hammer? When so many pieces are already stowed away in storage in most museums, it seems flinty to have such a stipulation.

As for works of art on loan from LACMA at the Getty and Huntington? Those museums should seize ownership of them since 5905 Wilshire Blvd is being dismantled and destroyed.
Anonymous said…
@Anonymous1 Armand Hammer was notoriously ego-driven and very difficult to work with. Actually, his paintings were originally supposed to be donated to LACMA, but his stipulations were so ridiculous that many LACMA boardmembers refused to compromise the County museum to serve some rich guy's ego (ironic how things have changed, right?). Hammer felt like he wasn't getting the respect he deserved and found his own museum with UCLA despite the fact that his collection was rather small. For similar stories, look up how the Norton Simon, Getty and Broad museums were formed. LACMA has always gotten the short end of things.
Anonymous said…
I now make it a habit to read the comments section to see the creative ways someone can segue a rant about LACMA into each and every subject posted here.
Anonymous said…
We need a lot more damn rants.

The SOB in charge of LACMA, with the cooperation of the museum's trustees, needs his ass kicked and booted out of town.


> A commercial exhibition conceived and assembled by a nonprofit
> museum director who is the head of a county department subsidized
> by taxpayers […] creates an ethical swamp of considerable depth.
> Neither LACMA’s board of trustees nor the L.A. County Board of
> Supervisors should stand for it.